Save Big in a Green Home

It’s the beginning of a brand new year – the perfect time to think about home improvements that will reduce energy bills, save on taxes and make your house more attractive for resale.

For a solid start in creating a more eco-friendly house, a professional energy audit can be conducted to target specific areas where significant changes can be made. You can even perform your own inspection to pinpoint the likely culprits and help prioritize your eventual plan of action. The U.S. Department of Energy can offer some helpful tips on doing a DIY assessment.

Once the house is sealed up tight and running as efficiently as possible, consider these further improvements that can make a big difference come tax time, while adding value to your home.

Solar Panels — There is so much potential for clean and practically limitless (barring nightfall and a few clouds here and there!) energy with solar power. Everything from landscaping lanterns to water heaters can be operated by harnessing the power of the sun. A switch to solar can equal big savings, but remains a renewable, low-maintenance and diverse energy choice.

Wood Stoves — There is no doubt that the warm glow of a fire creates ambiance, but a fireplace is also a source of costly drafts. Converting to an enclosed wood-burning stove achieves the same homey effect without the energy-inefficient downside. It’s important to research your options carefully when shopping for a wood stove, to be certain that this route makes sense for your particular home. A compact, multi-story dwelling in a rural area, for instance, is a good candidate. It is also advisable to select a product that has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as meeting its current regulations and standards.

Appliances — When it’s time to replace an appliance or two, keep an eye out for the “Energy Star” sticker as you shop. The U.S. government rates the energy efficiency of items such as dishwashers, dryers and refrigerators on a scale of 1 to 5. Be smart and Earth-friendly by using the rating as a pivotal decision-maker for your next appliance purchase. Peruse the Energy Star website for official ratings and buying guidance.

In the new year, investigate some of the tax credits and deductions you can take by making your house a green home. You’ll be saving energy, saving money and heck, even helping to save the planet. Now there’s a new year’s resolution worth keeping!