Tax Credits, and How to Find Them
Tax credits are controlled by the states and the federal government and are often used to incentivize home improvements that conserve energy. Homeowners claim these credits when they're filing their income taxes. For instance, a tax credit for installing solar panels can put 30 percent of the project cost right back in homeowners' pockets come tax time. This and other credits for installing renewable energy products have been extended through December 31, 2021. To find out what credits are available to you, visit the U.S. Department of Energy website.
Rebates, and How to Find Them
Unlike tax credits, rebates for energy-efficient appliances are typically administered through local power companies and appliance manufacturers in conjunction with the U.S. Energy Star program. To learn about rebates available in your area, visit the Energy Star website.
Energy Star-certified appliances are designed to use up to 30 percent less energy than older and non-certified appliances. Many local power companies offer rebates as high as $600 on purchases of qualified refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers. Before you buy new appliances, research available rebates so you can take full advantage of local programs.
Doors, Windows, and Skylights
Replacing old, leaky windows, doors, and skylights pays homeowners back—twice. These home improvement projects may qualify for rebates of up to $40 per door and $15 per window as well as tax credits of up to $200 for eligible windows and skylights, and up to $500 for eligible doors.
Sealing and insulating your attic, basement, walls, and foundation will save you money on your energy bills—10 percent or more a year—and increase interior comfort by eliminating drafts. Beyond that, some local utilities offer rebates of up to $400 for installing new or additional insulation.
The average American household owns 24 consumer electronics products, according to the Energy Star website, and those gadgets are responsible for up to 12 percent of household electricity use. Rebates of up to $200 are available on energy-efficient home electronics, including televisions, digital media players, telephones, computers, and tablets.
Switching to energy-efficient light fixtures, ceiling fans, lamps, decorative string lights, and environmentally friendly LED bulbs definitely pays off in lower energy bills—and you may even be able to get a bonus from your local utility company. Some offer rebates of up to $25 for fixtures and up to $3.50 per LED bulb.
If a new roof is in your future, consider installing an Energy Star-certified metal or asphalt roof. These new energy-efficient designs contain pigmented coatings or cooling granules that reduce heat gain and cut down on the amount of air conditioning needed to cool your home by up to 15 percent, thereby saving you cash. Qualified products are eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of the product, up to $500.
Related: 7 Signs You Need a New Roof
Heating and Cooling
As much as half of the household energy you use goes toward heating and cooling. That's why replacing old, inefficient furnaces, boilers, and air-conditioning units with newer, more efficient models can add up to substantial savings on energy bills. Some replacements qualify for both tax credits of up to $150 and rebates of up to $500.
Water heaters are the second biggest energy hogs in a typical home, but many newer types of water heaters save both energy and water. Rebates of up to $450 are available on qualified heat pump water heaters, solar water heaters, and whole-home tankless gas models.
Home Office Equipment
With the rise of telecommuting and flexible work schedules, more and more Americans have designated space in their home for an office. A dedicated home office may be eligible for a tax deduction, and there are rebates of up to $150 available on a broad selection of home office equipment, including computers, monitors, and data storage.
Renewable Energy Sources
The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit lets homeowners claim up to 30 percent of the cost of adding solar, wind, geothermal, and fuel-cell technologies to their home. The credit covers solar panels, solar-powered water heaters, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps, and more.
For tech gifts to enthrall everyone who lives under your roof, check out Bob Vila's roundup of the best gizmos and gadgets for the holiday season!