These Green Home Improvements Will Save Energy and Money

MOBILE, Alabama (March 17, 2022) — This St. Patrick’s Day, consider these green home improvements that will save you energy and money.


1. Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi-enabled devices that automatically adjust heating and cooling temperature settings in your home for optimal performance.

Many learn your temperature preferences and establish a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures when you are asleep or away.

A Nest consumer survey estimates that the company’s smart thermostat saved an average of 10-12 percent on heating and 15 percent on cooling. Based on typical energy costs, that’s an average savings of $131 to $145 a year.

Some energy companies send you a $249 Nest Thermostat at no cost when you sign up for certain plans. Others offer a mail-in rebate or an instant rebate — no paperwork necessary. 


2. Energy-Efficient Windows, Doors and Skylights

If you replaced any windows, doors, or skylights — or installed new ones that have earned the Energy Star — you are eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost (not including installation) on up to $200 for windows and skylights and up to $500 for doors.

You can also claim the credit if you installed a window or door where there was not one previously. 


3. LED Lighting

As a win-win, LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is the way to go with your springtime home improvements. Residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.

LED light bulbs are also mercury-free and stay cool to the touch. Although they are a little more expensive than traditional light bulbs, they will pay for themselves over time.


4. Solar Panels

The embodiment of going green is adding solar to your home. Solar panels are solar cells that capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity.

According to Sunrun, the average cost of installing solar panels in 2021 was between $12,000 and $16,000 after the solar tax credit.

Although they’re expensive to install, in the long run, they could save you on your electricity bill. Take your location into account when considering installing solar. If you live in an area where electricity is relatively inexpensive, you might not be a good candidate for a solar panel system.

To meet the requirements of the federal solar tax credit, the solar panel system must provide electricity for the residence and meet applicable fire and electrical code requirements. The system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.

The credit is not available for expenses for swimming pools or hot tubs.  The water must be used in the dwelling.

Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the renewable energy tax credits for fuel cells, small wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps now feature a gradual step down in the credit value, the same as those for solar energy systems. 

Tax Credit

  • 30 percent for systems placed in service by Dec. 31, 2019.
  • 26 percent for systems placed in service after Dec. 31, 2019, and before Jan. 1, 2023.
  • 22 percent for systems placed in service after Dec. 31, 2022, and before Jan. 1, 2024.

This tax credit expires on Dec. 31, 2023.


2 steal HVAC systems sitting outside a house, with a tree branch in the front

5. HVAC Systems and Upgrades

The average homeowner spends roughly $2,200 a year on utility bills. Believe it or not, half of that cost is associated with the home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. 

A new HVAC system can cost anywhere from $1,900 to $5,100, according to HomeAdvisor.com. So you’ll want that system to last a while and enable you to stretch a dollar.

Consider a high-efficiency heating and cooling system and look for the Energy Star label when purchasing new equipment. Go to energystar.gov for more information. 


6. Solar Water Heater 

Solar-heated water tanks operate just like standard water heaters, however, they have electric, natural gas or propane backup systems.

A solar water heater is about $8,000 to $10,000 including installation, according to House Logic.

It has two basic components:

  • A thermal collector on your home’s roof or in its yard and a storage tank
  • A back-up source of hot water — either a gas or electric tank water heater — to ensure a supply of hot water on cloudy and cold days

Solar water heaters are qualified under the residential energy efficient property credit. The applicable savings percentages are:

  • In the case of property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2016, and before Jan. 1, 2020, 30 percent.
  • In the case of property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2019, and before Jan. 1, 2023, 26 percent.
  • In the case of property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2022, and before Jan. 1, 2024, 22 percent.

Generally, this credit for alternative energy equipment ends for property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2023.


Further Reading

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