You can save money by reducing the amount of energy your family uses. It will require changing both your habits and your house. But with government incentives for greening your home, now is a great time to do it.
By Dan Tynan
If you think you didn't get much out of the government stimulus package, here's your chance—as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009, Congress extended federal tax credits for weatherizing your home through the end of 2010. If you install energy-efficient windows, roofs, or HVAC systems, you can get up to 30 percent of the cost ($1,500 annual maximum) as a tax credit. You may also be eligible for a wide range of state and local incentives. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Electricity offers a handy interactive map at dsireusa.org that details exactly what's available.
The savings can be significant. Next Step Living's Geoff Chapin says a $600 home energy audit can end up costing New England homeowners under $200, thanks to a 75 percent rebate. John Griswold of EcoBilt Energy Systems (ecobiltenergy.com), a South Carolina firm specializing in alternative energy, says a thermal water heating system that typically costs $7,000 would be closer to $3,000 after federal and state tax credits are applied (assuming you owe the government money). Over time, the unit would pay for itself. There are restrictions on what qualifies for incentives, so check the rules carefully before doing anything. For info, see energytaxincentives.org and the Alliance to Save Energy's tax credit primer at ase.org/taxcredits.