If you're considering a home-improvement project that will cut energy costs, it's not too late to take advantage of special federal tax credits, but to qualify, the improvement must have been made in 2012 or 2013.
The total tax credit can't exceed $500 dollars, and it must be claimed on the 2013 federal income tax form. You'll need to fill out IRS form 5695 and provide a copy of the manufacturer's certification statement, along with a receipt. Your service provider should be able to help you with the certification statement.
Before you commit to any improvements, evaluate your home's needs. An energy audit can help do that by telling you how much energy your home uses and what you can do to improve efficiency. An audit typically takes about three to four hours to complete and costs between $250 and $800. Most auditors take pictures, both infrared and digital, and include those in a report with descriptions and suggestions on how to fix issues.
For more from Angie's List about making your home more energy efficient and qualifying for tax credits, click here
Here's a list of products and appliances that may qualify for a tax credit, but keep in mind that the total credit can't exceed $500:
: Heating and cooling account for more than half the energy used in a typical home. If your heating or cooling unit is more than 10 years old, and you have had substantial repair costs, it may be a good time to think about replacing.
: A home should we well-insulated, from the roof to its foundation. If not, it could easily lose nearly half of its heating and cooling energy. How to tell if you need insulation? Look in your attic for exposed 2-by-4's. For the walls, find a spot, preferably in the closet where it's not seen, and make a small puncture hole with a wire. You should feel resistance and insulation. It's a good idea to have an energy audit done to determine areas in need of insulation.
: Water heating can account for up to a quarter of the energy consumed in your home. Maintained properly, water heaters will last for years and deliver gallon after gallon of hot water. But if your water heater is more than ten years old, it's probably operating at less than 50 percent of its efficiency.
: Industry experts say qualified roof products reflect more of the sun's rays; lowering the roof surface temperature by up to 100F, thus decreasing the amount of heat transferred you're your home. Curling, crackling and blistering of the shingles and/or a leaky roof are indicators that you need a new roof.
: By replacing your windows you can expect a return on your investment of at least 80 percent. If you notice condensation and drafts on and around your windows, or rotting or warping frames, you might be in need of an upgrade.
-Doors: The front door is a great way to increase curb appeal, and today's styles are more energy efficient. If your door is 15 years or older, splitting, or cracking - then it's likely time to replace.
-Biomass Stoves: Biomass stoves burn renewable sources to heat a home or heat water. The stoves burn pellets made from wood, corn, straw and other agricultural resources. Many new stoves come with EPA-approved standards that burn off most of the polluting gases and increase your stove's efficiency by as much as 10 percent.