4 of 10
BACKNEXT
Insulation
This is the place to start, says Karen Schneider, a spokeswoman for Energy Star. Along with sealing up leaks, insulation should be the first upgrade a homeowner considers. "Sometimes people buy highly rated energy-efficient windows and they complain about drafts. But it's not the window; it's the insulation. Especially if you live in an old house," says Schneider. "Insulation deteriorates over time. If your house is 50 years old and hasn't had anything done, you can bet you need insulation."

Insulation requirements vary by region but must meet 2009 standards set by the International Energy Conservation Code. The insulation must have a five-year life span or two-year warranty. Insulated siding does not qualify. Labor is not included, and the tax credit is capped at $1,500.

NEXT: Roofing

Last updated May 07 2009: 12:57 PM ET
More Galleries
The 13 most WTF gadgets From the weird to the gross, these 13 gadgets will make you wonder why they even exist. More
Best-loved cars in America These cars and trucks topped J.D. Power's APEAL survey, which measures how much owners like their new vehicles. More
America's most powerful cars A new 'horsepower war' has erupted among U.S. automakers and these are the most potent weapons in their arsenals. More

Special Offer
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.