If flag-waving doesn’t seem like you are making a serious and lasting statement about your patriotism, energy-efficient remodeling just might be a good way to show your patriotism right now. The evening news is still filled with talk of the importance of becoming less dependent on other countries for the petroleum products we need to power our lifestyles. We also hear a steady murmur about the greenhouse effect on the environment and about how our use of fossil fuels is damaging it.

If you have the available credit or the cash in hand to undertake an energy-efficiency remodel of your home, you would be doing several things that would help the nation pull out of the economic recession and move one step closer toward the goals of reducing dependence on foreign oil and protecting the environment:
  • You would keep the contractors and workers working
  • You would keep the workers who manufacture the products you use in a job
  • You would make your home more energy-efficient, which carries several results:
    • You earn a federal tax credit for qualifying products
    • You will probably qualify for some state and/or local government incentives
    • You will probably qualify for some local utility company incentives
    • You will pay lower utility bills for as long as you own your home
    • You will probably qualify for low-cost financing for your project.
A 2008 study in California found that homes built before 1983 were responsible for 70% of the greenhouse emissions related to single family energy consumption. This is echoed by remodeling industry research, which suggests that we would have greater effect in reducing residential energy consumption by remodeling and retrofitting the older homes across the country than anything we could do to new homes.
Several economic factors are also making this the perfect time to remodel for energy efficiency:
  • The recession and the housing crisis hit the building and remodeling industries very hard. Contractors, sub-contractors and workers want work and many are discounting their rates by ten percent or more to stay busy and keep their people working.
  • The prices of many building materials (such as lumber and asphalt) have been declining.
  • Energy-efficient appliances are sale priced to move inventory and generate revenues for manufacturers. This is also true of cabinetry and many other items.
The new income tax credits for homeowners who make energy-efficiency improvements are three times what we have seen in recent years. Remodeling for energy efficiency will earn a tax credit of 30% on qualifying products (materials, appliances, etc.) up to a total credit in a single year of $1,500. Energy efficient remodels include such upgrades as windows, doors, roofing, more efficient water heaters, HVAC, lighting and appliances.
Because there is so much interest in reducing damage to the environment and reducing dependence on foreign oil, the incentives from the Federal Government tend to make the most efficient kinds of remodels the most cost-effective choices by offering larger credits. For remodels that switch to renewable energy sources to provide power to a home, the 30% tax credit has no limit. The cost of a solar, photovoltaic, small wind turbine system, biomass stove, geothermal system, or even a hydro-electric system (in some cases) will immediately be reduced by a tax credit of 30% of the cost of the system and its installation!
Federal tax credits are also supplemented by incentives offered by state governments, some municipal governments, and power companies throughout the nation. These incentives range from low-interest loans to rebates on the price of the equipment, to sales tax exclusions, to energy production incentives from utility companies, to reduced rates, to exclusion from increasing the assessed value of your home for property tax purposes.

In short, as all of these factors come together, they create the perfect storm of opportunity for homeowners to help the nation achieve the very important goals of putting people back to work, turning the economy around, reducing dependence on foreign oil, and protecting the environment. Energy-efficient remodeling just might be one of the most patriotic things you can do right now.