If you’ve been thinking about making some upgrades to your home to make it more sustainable and energy efficient, there’s no time like the present. Especially when the federal Investment Tax Credit for Solar Power was extended making 2019 the last year to take full advantage of a 30% tax credit for a new solar power system.
Whether you’re homesteading in a small, urban space or own your home, the upfront cost of sustainable home upgrades like solar panels or other renewable utilities can be daunting and cause you to put off worthwhile renovations, even with tax incentives. But don’t let financial fears get in the way; here are some ideas for getting started with upgrades that will pay off and then some in the long run.
Uncover Local Discounts or Incentives
Major renovations can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but for you there’s many regional programs available to help make sustainable living possible. In states including California, Kansas and Iowa, the value of solar equipment is excluded from a homeowner’s property value, helping to keep property taxes lower while enjoying the cost saving benefits of solar. In places like Vermont and Maine there are statewide programs offering rebates on energy efficient products like smart thermostats and ductless, electric heat pumps. Many states, including Naturemom’s home state of Ohio, don’t have equipment incentives but DO offer net metering which allows you to sell back the energy created by your solar system to the grid in exchange for credits on your utility bills. To pay for the upfront cost of the equipment, homeowners might consider using the equity in their home to unlock low- or no-interest financing.
Switch to Solar
If your community offers net metering, not only does that give you a whopping financial incentive to go solar, it also means you don’t need to rely on an off-grid system including costly batteries to get started. What’s more, many solar panel companies offer low-cost financing so you can get set up with solar panels today and pay off the price of the equipment over time. And with the money you’re saving on utility costs by selling solar energy back to the grid, it essentially pays for itself
Install an Efficient Heating System
For anyone who lives in a climate with cold winters, you know all too well the horror of wintertime heating bills. You can waste less energy, and save money, by buttoning up your house from drafts around doors, windows and attics, but to get a truly sustainable solution to staying cozy all winter, consider installing a system that runs on renewables. Ductless, electric heat pumps are a great alternative to both air conditioners and space heaters, and the newest models are even powerful enough for cold climates. A ductless system is great for smaller spaces, easily heating (or cooling!) a small urban home.
Or for a traditional solution when you own your home, you might install a wood stove. Of course old fashioned wood-burning furnaces, while renewable, are not particularly efficient or good for air quality. But, a masonry heater is a super-efficient fireplace that captures heat through a thermal mass system that uses minimal firewood and burns clean for hours and hours of radiant heat.
Ready to resolve to go renewable? Not only will these upgrades lead to a greener tomorrow for the environment in which you live, it will lead to a tomorrow with more green in your wallet making the upfront investment well worth it.