Angie's List: Improving your home's energy efficiency - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Angie's List: Improving your home's energy efficiency

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2013 is drawing to a close, but before you focus on new resolutions, you may want to complete one more project this year.

If you make your home more energy efficient before December 31st, you could be eligible for a federal tax credit.

In this Angie's List report, why you may want to start with a home energy audit. 

"One of the issues we had was around switches and plug outlets throughout the house," says homeowner Steve Chase. "This was one that was maybe worse than the others. We knew it was kind of cold, but we did not realize quite how bad it was. But the audit did identify this area and it was a pretty simple fix. Just took off the faceplate and put some foam insulation around the electrical box and put the faceplate back on and it made a big difference.

For homeowner Steve Chase, a home energy audit gave him piece of mind by proving recent home improvements weren't wasted.

"We didn't build the house, we bought the house existing and it had been five years old when we moved in and so I think the biggest surprise for us was just pleasantly we didn't have any big issues and many of the small issues we had, we were able to fix without much trouble," says Chase.

There are several products and appliances that may qualify for a tax credit – including insulation, heating and cooling equipment, roofing and windows.

But before you commit to any improvements, evaluate your home's needs.

An energy audit can help do that by telling you how much energy your home uses and what you can do to improve efficiency.

"I have my infrared camera here and what we do is we go through the house," says energy auditor, Art Tompkins. "We look at everything, floors, doors, windows, and ceilings – everything that we can think of and we are trying to find issues within the house."

Auditors also conduct a blower door test to detect leaks.

"This is the skin of the blower door and I preassembled it," says Tompkins. "It goes right into the door like this."

An audit typically takes about three to four hours to complete and costs $250 to $800.

Most auditors take pictures, both infrared and digital, and include those in a report with descriptions and suggestions on how to fix issues.

"When hiring an energy auditor you want to make sure they are an independent third party," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "The auditor should come in and give you an assessment. They shouldn't be selling you the actual items."

And you should always be home at the time of the audit so you can walk through your house, room by room, with the auditor.

For a list of products and appliances that may quality for a tax credit head to the Angie's List website. http://www.angieslist.com/articles/times-running-out-earn-energy-efficiency-tax-credits.htm

Keep in mind that the total credit can't exceed $500 and it must be claimed on the 2013 federal income tax form.

You'll need to fill out IRS Form 5695 and provide a copy of the Manufacturer's Certification Statement, along with a receipt. Your service provider should be able to help you with the certification statement.

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