a white houseA few years ago, we replaced half the windows in our house and we saved about $500 in heating oil that winter and got a tax credit. When you’re a homeowner it can be hard to find the money to make improvements to the weatherization of your home, but it really does pay off in the long run. Our house is about 100 years old, so there’s no end to our list of home improvement projects, but whenever anything is replaced, I make sure that I consider energy efficiency.

Our appliances must all be ENERGY STAR rated, and I did my research to be sure that I was buying really efficient windows. I find that good quality, energy-efficient products can be a little more expensive to buy, but they pay you back in so many ways, and there are government programs that will help you pay for them.

The Residential Energy Property Credit offers tax credits if you made energy-efficient improvements to your home in 2009 and 2010. You could get a credit up to $1,500 for adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows, and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems. You can also get a tax credit when you install alternative energy equipment, like solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines.

Weatherization assistance programs are available to low income families, to help permanently reduce energy bills. These programs provide free services like weather-stripping doors and windows, and improvements to heating and cooling systems. Offices in your state administer the programs, so check with your state offices to find services available in your area and to apply for assistance.