Improve your home's energy efficiency

Some improvements may qualify for 2013 federal tax credits

Author: Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 13 2013 12:23:06 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 16 2013 05:40:00 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

2013 is drawing to a close, but before you focus on new resolutions, you may want to complete one more project this year.  If you make your home more energy efficient before December 31st, you could be eligible for a federal tax credit.

To qualify for the tax credits — which reimburse homeowners 10 percent of the cost of an Energy Star-qualifying home improvement project, up to $500 — the improvement must have been made in 2012 or 2013.

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:

  1. HVAC Systems: 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.
  2. Insulation:  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.
  3. Water Heaters: 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.
  4. Roofing: 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.
  5. Windows: 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


Taxpayers who took advantage of the full original tax credits from 2006 to 2011 are not eligible for the entire credit. However, if you only used $200 of the credit during that time period, you would still be eligible for $300 this time around.

In order to receive the tax credit for various home improvement projects, the work must have been done in 2013 and it must be claimed on the 2013 federal income tax form, which is due to be filed by April 15, 2014.  (Read more here from the IRS.)


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