There's Still Time to Reap Green Home Tax Breaks

With the tax deadline nearing - April 17 is just over a month away - you've still got time to reap savings from last year's home renovations. Aside from obvious credits for hybrid vehicles (which range from $250 to $3,400) home renovations can also net you some pretty decent tax credits, as long as they're green.

Energy Star rated windows, skylights and doors; or insulation and roofing are eligible for up to $200 and $500 credits respectively. The bigger the project, the bigger the credit. Photovoltaic solar installations can get you a 30 percent of cost credit up to $2000. The same goes for smaller but generally more popular solar water heaters -- as long as they aren't used for that hot tub on your deck. It's all thanks to the Energy Policy Act (EPACT), signed in 2005 and remaining effective until the end of 2007.

Still time to make energy efficient upgrades

If you haven't taken advantage of credits yet, it's not too late. Anything you upgrade until the end of the year will count towards your taxes next year. And even better than the credits, the EPA estimates efficient upgrades can reduce your energy costs by up to 30 percent. That's a credit that just keeps on giving.

Where to start?

If you want to make changes but don't know what needs to be done, get an energy audit.  Utilities often do it for free and scour your home for trouble spots, where energy is likely being wasted. Some companies charge a few hundred dollars and use thermal imaging to pinpoint specific areas that energy loss occurs. Who knows, after you're done maybe you can even peer pressure a few friends into saving too.
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