Green living

Invest your tax refund in energy-efficient upgrades to save more

When shopping for that new appliance, such as a washer, make sure to seek out ENERGY STAR-certified models. These appliances can save you money and energy.

Millions of Americans’ mid-April angst for the tax filing deadline is quickly replaced by mid-May motivation from the refund that refills their savings accounts.

If you are fortunate to receive a tax refund, you may already have plans for this money — the Internal Revenue Service reported that through March 24 this year’s average refund was $2,897. As you possibly plan spring cleaning this time of year, you also can use your tax refund to invest in energy-efficient home upgrades that help you save even more money in the long run! Possibilities include:

  • Appliances: If you’re planning to upgrade an item such as a washing machine or a refrigerator, seek out ENERGY STAR®-certified appliances, which the Department of Energy reports can save up to $750 on energy over the product’s lifecycle.
  • Programmable thermostat: This type of thermostat can help you better control your house’s temperature, including reducing energy use when you are asleep or away from home. You can save as much as 10 percent on heating and cooling costs annually.
  • Retrofits: Older homes can be upgraded through retrofits to improve energy efficiency dramatically! A variety of options, such as adding improved insulation or an upgraded HVAC system, is available and can extend beyond a simple tax refund to provide long-term improvements to homes and other buildings.
  • Insulation: You can save money by insulating your house, including proper air sealing, to reduce long-term heating and cooling costs. A lack of insulation or improper sealing can lead to heating or cooling loss, which then leads to your air conditioning and heating systems working much harder to maintain a desired temperature.
  • Lighting: Energy-efficient lighting upgrades, such as LEDs, can greatly improve your lighting while using less energy. LED bulbs are heartier and can last three times (or more) longer than traditional bulbs, and they have become steadily more affordable. Replacing your traditional bulbs with LEDs will ensure you spend less money on replacements, and you also will reduce the amount of energy each bulb uses. Plus, through POWER MOVES®, you can receive a $3 rebate per ENERGY STAR® bulb, up to 30 bulbs through Dec. 31. You save in multiple ways.

These are just a few examples of some of the upgrades available. Your local electric co-op can help you determine what options may be best through a free energy assessment, which can discover potential issues in your house. Also, be sure to discuss with your co-op what potential incentives, if any, may be available for your particular upgrades.

Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer looking to do a major overhaul or someone simply seeking a slight upgrade you’ve postponed, seeking an energy-efficient alternative will help you save money for the rest of the year and beyond! For more tips and information on rebates visit or contact your energy advisor today.