Our discussion on how to save energy at home briefly hits on more than 30 changes you can can make in and around your home, from cheap-yet-effective steps to upgrades that require upfront spending, but quickly pay for themselves from lower utility bills to systems and renovations that minimize what you pull off the grid, but come at steep prices.

Much of this info draws on content from other sections of our website—ratings and advice for hiring heating and air-conditioning contractors, window suppliers, insulation installers, energy auditors, appliance stores, and more.

Below are links to additional resources for further info on going green.

Often, the extra costs of energy-saving improvements can be reduced by tax credits and utility company rebates. We also list below the incentives we could identify as available in the Delaware Valley area in November 2020.
 

Resources

Home Energy Saver pro
Tool from the U.S. Department of Energy that estimates cost vs. benefit of making various energy-saving improvements; we found using the “Detailed input” option helped generate the most accurate assessments

Energy Star
Certifies energy-efficient appliances and HVAC equipment

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Rebates and tax incentives available from utilities and governments

Efficient Windows Collaborative
Help with window selection and estimating cost savings

National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Research and publications on renewables; offers a calculator that estimates energy production and cost of solar installations

Consumer Reports
Ratings of appliances, lightbulbs, window A/C units, etc.

Residential Energy Services Network
Certification for energy auditors

Passive House Institute U.S.
Certification and training for net-zero energy-use builders, contractors, and manufacturers

Zero Energy Project
Advice and lists of products and suppliers for home buyers, builders, and designers interested in net-zero energy-use homes

EPA WaterSense Rebate Finder
Database of available rebates for installing water-saving devices

Earth911.com
Tons of practical green tips, plus database on recycling centers and where to dispose of hazardous household waste

LocalHarvest
Fantastic for finding nearby farmers markets, CSAs, and other sources of locally grown food

National Resources Defense Council
Environmental research and watchdog group

YouTube
Thousands of DIY videos from experts (but also definitely-not-experts)
 

Rebates and Tax Incentives to Help Pay for Green Improvements

Below are the incentives we could identify as available in the Delaware Valley area in November 2020. Because programs come and go, check with Energy Star, your utility company, and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) for up-to-date information.

Before starting a project, also confirm you qualify. Some programs require homeowners to work with utilities’ “approved” contractors or to file paperwork before installations occur to get rebates.

We didn’t include low-interest loan programs, which are most often available for new home construction. We also didn’t look for community grants for multi-home projects or incentives for commercial buildings. And we list only programs available to all; some other incentives have income or age requirements or apply to work done by landlords of apartment buildings.

Federal Income Tax Credits

Below, we list federal tax credits available for 2021 (homeowners can claim these credits when they file their federal tax returns).

  • Insulation and air leakage improvements—10 percent of project costs, not including installation/labor, up to $500
  • Windows, doors, skylights—10 percent of project costs, not including installation/labor, up to $200, for Energy Star-certified models
  • Furnaces—$150 for units with 95+ AFUE
  • Furnace blower motors—$50 for models that consume less than two percent of the furnace’s total energy
  • Wood or wood pellet stoves or biomass heating systems—26 percent of project costs for units with Thermal Efficiency Ratings of 75+
  • Water heaters—$300 for Energy Star-certified models
  • Central A/Cs—$300 for most systems
  • Air-source heat pumps—$300 for most new systems
  • Ground-source (geothermal) heat pumps—26 percent of project costs
  • Solar panels and fuel cells—26 percent of project costs
  • Wind energy—26 percent of project costs

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program

  • Central air conditioners—$300 rebate for units with SEER 16.0 to 17.9; $500 rebate for units with SEER 18 or greater
  • Central air-source heat pumps—$600 rebate for units with SEER 16 to 17.9; $1,000 rebate for units with SEER 18 or better
  • Ductless mini-split A/Cs—$500 rebate for units with SEER 20 or better
  • Ductless mini-split heat pumps—$1,000-$2,000 rebate, depending on system installed
  • Furnaces—$250 rebate for gas furnaces with 95 to 96.9 AFUE; $500 rebate for gas units with 97 AFUE or better; $250 rebate for oil-burning units with 85 AFUE or better; $450 bonus rebate if a qualifying gas water heater is installed at the same time
  • Boilers—$300 rebate for approved units
  • Urban Enterprise Zones—Additional $200 rebate for heating and cooling installations in homes located in designated neighborhoods
  • Gas water heaters—$300 rebate for qualifying models
  • Heat pump water heaters—$750 rebate
  • Refrigerators—$25-$75 rebate for approved models
  • Clothes washers—$50-$75 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Clothes dryers—$100-$300 rebate for approved models
  • Window A/Cs—$15 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Dehumidifiers—$25 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Refrigerator and freezer recycling—$50 credit
  • Window A/C recycling—$25 credit

PECO Customers

  • Central air conditioners—$50-per-ton rebate for Energy Star-certified units with SEER 15.0 to 17.9; $85-per-ton rebate for units with SEER 18 or greater
  • Furnaces—$300 rebate for forced-air units with 95 AFUE or better or for boilers with 90 AFUE or better; additional $100 rebate for units equipped with high-efficiency blower motors
  • Air-source heat pumps—$60-per-ton rebate for Energy Star-certified units with SEER 16.0 to 17.9; $110-per-ton rebate for units with SEER 18 or greater
  • Ductless heat pumps—$75-per-ton rebate for Energy Star-certified units with SEER 16.0 to 17.9; $110-per-ton rebate for units with SEER 18 or greater
  • Converting from inefficient heating methods to natural gas—$200 rebate for replacing an electric, oil, or propane heating system with a qualifying gas model
  • Room air conditioners—$15 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Refrigerators and standalone freezers—$20 rebate for Energy Star-certified models, plus $75 for recycling old models
  • Clothes washers—$25 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Electric clothes dryers—$15 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Gas clothes dryers—$150 rebate to switch from electric to an Energy Star-certified model
  • Gas stovetop/ranges—$125 rebate to switch from electric to an Energy Star-certified model
  • Gas water heaters (storage tanks)—$400 rebate to switch from electric to an Energy Star-certified model
  • Heat pump water heaters—$350 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Dehumidifiers—$50 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Bathroom ventilation fans—$25 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Lighting discounts—Buy from participating retailers to get utility-backed discounts on approved bulbs

PGW Customers

  • Gas furnaces—$350 rebate for units with 95+ AFUE
  • Boiler furnaces—$900 rebate for units with 94+ AFUE
  • Tankless water heaters—$350 rebate for Energy Star-certified models

Energize Delaware

  • Energy audits, air sealing, and insulation—Pay $100 for an energy assessment and the auditor will install for free up to $200 worth of recommended efficient lighting, water pipe insulation, and faucets
  • Air sealing—$700-$1,100 rebate, depending on improvement attained
  • Duct sealing—$500 rebate
  • Attic insulation—$900-$1,000 depending on level of improvement
  • Wall insulation—$300-$1,600 rebate
  • Floor/crawlspace insulation—$600 rebate
  • Central air conditioners—$500 rebate for units with SEER 16.0 to 16.9; $650 rebate for units with SEER 17.0 or better
  • Air-source heat pumps—$600 rebate for units with SEER 16.0 to 16.9; $800 rebate for units with SEER 17.0 or better
  • Mini-split heat pumps—$400 rebate for units with SEER 17 to 20.9; $600 rebate for unit with SEER 21 or better
  • Gas furnaces—$600 rebate for units with 94 to 95 AFUE and ECM motors; $650 rebate for units with 96 AFUE or better and ECM furnace motors
  • Hybrid heat pump + furnace systems—$1,000 to $1,300 rebate, depending on configuration
  • Oil furnaces—$500 rebate for units with 85 AFUE or better
  • Boiler furnaces—$650 rebate for units with 85 to 89 AFUE; $800 rebate for units with 90 AFUE or better
  • Heat pump water heaters—$750 rebate
  • Tankless water heaters—$600 rebate for approved models
  • Ground-source heat pumps—$1,500 rebate for approved units
  • Smart thermostats—$100 rebate for Energy Star-certified models
  • Solar—offers grants that reimburse customers per kWh saved; maximum residential grant is $5,000
  • Wind turbines—offers grants that reimburse customers per kWh saved; maximum residential grant is $15,000
  • Appliance recycling—$50 credit