Ohio homeowners are continually squeezed for cash, investing in home improvements may seem like a luxury that can wait. However, the right investment can pay dividends from day one and will allow for more savings over time. This may be the best time to evaluate your home and see where improvements can be made, particularly in energy savings. Now there are three ways to save money by investing in energy efficient home improvements.

Take advantage of Tax Credits up to $1,500: On this web site you can find qualifying products from attic insulation, entry doors, and replacement windows. The Federal government is providing tax credits of 30%, up to $1,500, for qualifying home improvements. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extended many consumer tax incentives to December 31, 2010 originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. To qualify your improvements must be in an existing home and your principal residence. New construction and rentals do not qualify but there is a section in the law that pertains to construction companies performing work in these areas. Apply with your taxes for 2009 on tax form 5695 and maintain the Manufacturer's Certification Statement for your records. You can find these statements for Windows and Attic Insulation on the improveit2green website. Although not enacted into law yet, the Home Star bill in congress at this time will provide further incentives for investing in energy efficient homes. Energy Savings over Time: Some products such as insulation and siding will save on up to 20% of energy costs while whole house window replacements can save up to 40% of your energy costs. We have prepared some charts that will show you how much you can save over time with these investments if your bills are typically between $100 and $400 per month. The calculations are based upon the actual increase in utility costs from 2000 - 2008 published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. They can be significant savings and you can recoup 100% of your investment. For 20 percent savings you can see that after 10 years you can save up to $15,419 with current bills of $400 per month. At 40% savings the amount saved doubles to $30,838 for the same period. Building Equity: With each home improvement you build equity in your home. You may not see this until you go to sell your home, but it is an improvement that can save you money down the road. You will see more on how the government is helping there in Part II and III of this series. In part II we will discuss the Energy Efficiency Mortgages when you go to buy a green home and in part III, how these improvements help in selling your home. The government is drafting legislation in that area as well. It's all about saving green.

This is a three-part series on ways to save money by investing in energy efficient home improvements. In the upcoming weeks we will report on ways to save money by investing in home improvements in these three areas.

The series will resume after the holidays. Have a safe and happy new year.