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Houston is notorious for having one of the highest energy- consumption costs in the country. Houstonians pay much of this cost in the summer, when the heat feels like being stuck inside Grandma’s oven with a pan of biscuits!

Rather than keep paying high energy bills, many people are using green technology and green building techniques to make existing homes more energy efficient. Until December 31, you can even get a tax break for improving your home’s energy usage and energy efficiency. There is a 10% tax deduction still available for adding insulation to your home, for sealing all the little leaks that hog more energy than you actually want to use. For those installing solar panels, there is a 30% tax credit in effect until 2016. Solar panels have come a long way in energy creation, and many people are even selling local energy companies the excess energy they aren’t using from their solar panels.

Another way to save money on energy costs and help you stay comfortable is by installing a cool roof. A cool roof can reduce the temperature both inside and on top of your home. In cities, there is often a “heat island” created in summer, because in Houston, as in other cities, heat baking off roofs and sidewalks makes cities hotter by five to ten degrees than in the suburbs or the country. Temperatures on a Houston roof can reach in excess of 185 degrees in summer. A cool roof lowers that temperature to 120 degrees. This means your home doesn’t get as hot, so the air-conditioner doesn’t work as hard. A cool roof will save you money, and there is a tax credit available for a new cool roof until December 31, 2011. This is also a ten percent credit, up to 500 USD.