Green Home Improvements: Take Advantage of Tax Credits for Energy-Saving Home Improvements

Green home improvements have been encouraged in recent years through the offering of tax incentives. For people interested in making their homes more energy efficient and gaining the tax benefits at the same time, here are some tips to help you understand what types of green home improvements qualify for a tax credit and how to make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to earn your benefit.

Some green home tax credits are expiring at the end of 2010. Although we are approaching year-end, there is still time to take advantage of some of these money-saving incentives for energy-saving home improvements, but you must hurry.

Tax credits are offered on a wide range of green home improvements and upgrades. Some are very inexpensive to do; other can be quite costly even with the tax credit. Here is a summary of what is available for 2010.

The simplest and least expensive energy-saving home improvement that qualifies is adding insulation. Insulation for your attic can be purchased for no more than $50 to $100, and if you install it yourself (which is fairly easy and straightforward to do) there is no additional cost. This will earn you a tax credit of 30% of the cost.

For more expensive investments, tax credits of 30% of the cost, up to a maximum credit of $1500, are available now for the purchase and installation energy efficient furnaces and air conditioning units, energy efficient windows and doors, and water heaters. The credit includes the cost of materials and also the cost of installation for all these items except for the installation on doors and windows (don’t ask me why windows and doors are excluded; it makes no sense, but that is the law).

It is important to remember that these tax credits apply only to your primary residence. Second homes and rental homes and apartments do not qualify for the items listed above.

But I have saved the best part for last. There are even better tax benefits available for rooftop solar panel arrays, small residential wind turbines, and geothermal heat pump systems. For these specific green home improvements, the tax credit covers 30% of all costs, including installation without any upper limit. Even better, for these specific energy-saving investments the tax benefits can be claimed for your primary residence and second homes. Unlike the previous cases, new constructions are also okay. And get this: these government-provided subsidies are not expiring at the end of 2010. Tax credits for solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps are available through the year 2016.

Extreme Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are trying to go green with their home improvements. Once they have done the fast and simple upgrades and the improvements that can make a big difference without breaking the bank, they are ready to start thinking about extreme green home improvements.

Extreme green home improvements are costly and our research shows that these home improvements only appeal to a specific group of buyers. So before assuming that making costly and extreme green improvements, you should do your research on the return on investment for these upgrades in your region. This research can take some of the risk out of the investment. But it is still a gamble.

Some of the extreme green improvements that you might consider are:

Installing photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. Everyone has heard about the merits of using solar power to generate electricity. The initial cost of installing the cells and the equipment to convert the power to electricity for use in the home can be significant. That cost will, however, be recovered over time.

Installing all new windows with triple glazing and UV reflective coatings. The best windows available at this time for their insulating value are triple-glazed windows with gas between the panes and the highest level UV reflective coatings. Installed throughout a home, this can be a costly upgrade. But their value will be immediately clear in comfort within the home and utility cost savings over time.

Switching to a solar water heating system. The cost of a solar water heating system will be higher than traditional electric or gas models. You can expect to recover the cost in water heating savings over just a few years.

Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. Geothermal heating and cooling systems are very expensive to install and require a certain amount of ground space for installation. They can, however, be placed either horizontally or vertically in the ground. Because they use the constant temperature of the earth, they result in significantly lower energy bills.

Switch all appliances to the highest-rated energy efficiency models. The technology to build more energy-efficient appliances seems to improve almost every year. Replacing older appliances can result in less energy use and lower operating costs.

Install a high-efficiency metal roof. New metal roofing materials are well-insulated and extremely durable. Although the metal roof might cost a little bit more at installation, it will last far longer than shingles or shakes, and it will provide better insulation for your home.

Each of these extreme green home improvements will be costly. On the other hand, all of these improvements will result in significant savings on utility bills. Although they might not pay for themselves in a year or two, you should be able to expect to recover the cost in lower utility bills over time.

While extreme green home remodeling might not be right for every homeowner, it might be right for you. These upgrades probably will not increase the value of your home significantly in terms of resale, but they will certainly make the home more comfortable for your family and more energy efficient.

Green Home Projects – Redo Your Home With Eco-Friendly Products

Are you contemplating home projects like new floors, wall painting, new appliances, bathroom fixtures, or maybe even a new roof? Then you may wish to consider using “green” home products or “eco-friendly” products and help the environment as well as your pocket. My husband and I have a huge list of home projects that need to be done on our old home. We are going to discuss our projects below and in the articles to follow. Here is what we plan to do in the future…

A New Roof — In the Meantime Fix the Leaks!

We have been slowly covering our old tar and gravel roof with Lanco White Seal. It has been an amazing process. The Lanco White Seal is white, therefore we are reaping an huge reduction in energy costs during the hot summer months. In addition, the roofing seal is allowing us breathing room so we can save for a new eco-friendly roof like a “cool roof.”

Wall Painting:

We have several rooms in our home that have not been painted for over 21 years! We finally painted one room using No VOC paint from Home Depot. We love it – it is not stinky! We plan to paint all the rooms and halls in the future with this type of paint (No VOC), researching the best deals and quality before we buy.

Redo All the Flooring:

Our wish is to redo the whole house’s flooring all at once using a “green” flooring product. We would love to use bamboo flooring, yet have been researching cork flooring and even natural linoleum. Then there is also the possibility of recycled flooring. This is a big project that will cost a lot of money, so we will be saving and researching our options.

Water Filtration:

My husband does not want to drink our city’s tap water that contains fluoride. I would prefer to drink water that has a higher PH content than what our tap water offers. We buy our water now and feel it is a huge cost as well as impact on the environment (although we do add the jugs to the recycle bin). So, a new water filtration system for our kitchen sink is really all we need. It would need to filter out impurities, fluoride and increase the PH, which is not too tall of an order. For our shower, we have been using a shower water filter unit which works fine. Although, we would like to add a water saver to it.

Even more Redo It Green Home Projects:

The above represents the “big” projects. We have a lot more on our list like buying energy saving appliances, new “green” lighting, tankless water heater system, energy saving windows and doors, and the list goes on. Yet, we did not mention the biggest home project on our list above…

Solar Panels and Wind Turbine

A dream of ours is to become “off the grid” — maybe even have the electric company pay us for a change. This would require solar panels and possibly a wind turbine added to our home. A huge project as well expense. We have to make sure we research all the possibilities and choose the best that will work for our home, climate and space.

Do you have a list of home projects? We hope you too will consider going “green” whenever possible. We know many people hesitate using green eco-friendly products because the expense seems much higher. So far, in our limited experience with these products, we have found that although the price is initially higher, we save money in the long run.

Three Green Home Improvements You Can Make Today

Making your home more eco-friendly can be easier than you think. If you though that in order to have an eco-friendly home you’d need to re-build from the ground up, you’ll be happy to know that there are several simple changes that you can make in your home that will save you money, make your home more “green” and increase the resell value of your home. These days having an eco-friendly home can be a great selling point.

One of the first improvements you can make is with eco-friendly paint. Painting is one of the easiest home improvements you can do. Today, there is a wide choice of eco-friendly paints that have low VOC levels. These paints don’t have the harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. The three basic types of eco-friendly paints are milk based, clay based and recycled latex. These paints can be used on a variety of different surfaces.

Milk based paints are completely natural, but they need to be mixed with water in order to be used. It’s the most expensive option and it remains porous after drying. Clay based paints are very durable and are great for faux finishes. Of all three eco-friendly paints, recycled latex is the most prominent since it can be purchased at most major home improvement stores. It has the most colors available and doesn’t require natural wax to prevent stains like the other options do.

You can also go eco-friendly with your flooring. Natural flooring materials have a beautiful finish and they have low environmental impact. The most common types of eco-friendly flooring are cork and bamboo. Cork is durable and very comfortable to walk on. It is used with non-toxic adhesives and comes in many different colors. Bamboo flooring is also another eco-friendly option. It is very similar to traditional wood flooring in its look. What makes it eco-friendly is that bamboo grows much more quickly than traditional hardwood floors.

If you have the budget for a large eco-friendly home improvement project, you can replace your regular roofing with a more eco-friendly roof. Solar roof systems are the most well known of the eco-friendly options. These roof systems take the light from the sun and convert it into energy that can be used inside of the home. Although these roofs are not made from recyclable materials, the energy savings make them eco-friendly. A solar roofing system will last for approximately 30 years.

Another option is reflective roofing. This option involves covering your roof with a white colored fluid that is applied with a paint roller. This roofing reflects the suns rays and helps reduce energy bills inside the home, especially during the summer. It reduces ultraviolet deterioration of the roof. Roofs made from recycled metal are also a very energy efficient and eco-friendly option. Metal roofs can reflect up to 35% of the suns’ rays. As an added bonus, metal roofs are resistant to both fire and pests.

Any of these eco-friendly options will make a great addition to your home, whether you are planning on living there for decades or will be moving in a few years.