Increasing insulation in walls and attic, upgrading drafty windows and doors, replacing older heating and cooling systems, planting shade trees and shrubs around your house, and upgrading to new energy-efficient appliances will not only put money back in your wallet through lower monthly utility costs, they will also increase your home’s value.

With energy costs continuing to rise, coupled with the greater environmental awareness by today’s homebuyers, investing in “green” upgrades makes sense regardless of whether you are listing your home for sale this spring, or planning to stay put for years.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, demand remains high for energy-efficient, eco-friendly home features – particularly in more extreme climates like Maine’s. The survey found that “energy-efficiency” rated second only to “safe community” on the list of attributes that most influence a home purchase decision.

The Efficiency Maine website (www.efficiencymaine.com) offers tools to calculate the efficiency of your home, and how to improve it, along with rebates, incentives, and affordable financing options.

The Department of Energy website (www.energy.gov) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program (www.energystar.gov) are two other good sources for tips and resources.

Financing green improvements.

A smart way to finance energy- efficient upgrades is to use your home itself – putting your home equity to work for you.

Many banks offer home equity loans and lines of credit that let you use your positive equity – the difference between your mortgage balance and the appraised value of your home – for home improvements and other needs.

Home equity loans let homeowners to borrow as much as 80 percent of their home’s equity value at a fixed interest rate that is repaid in equal payments over a set term – usually five to 30 years.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) provides greater flexibility by allowing homeowners to draw against a credit line as they need the funds, with flexible payment terms including interest-only payments. As the principal is repaid, the credit line is replenished and more funds become available for borrowing.

Whether you choose a home equity loan or HELOC for home improvement costs, the good news is, the interest you pay remains tax deductible.

While the newly enacted 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax bill eliminates deductions on loans for other uses (vacations, college, etc.), if the funds are used to acquire, construct or improve a qualified residence, interest payment deductions are still allowed.

Therefore, taxpayers who will itemize in 2018 can still get a tax savings from home improvement financing. Be sure to consult with your tax advisor about your specific situation.

If you don’t have enough equity in your home, or you don’t want to use your home as collateral, many financial institutions offer non-secured home improvement loans. KeyBank’s Energy Efficiency Program (KEEP) requires no collateral when proceeds are used for qualified home improvements.

Qualified projects include window replacement, walls and attic insulation, furnace replacement, boiler replacement, heat pumps, and solar panels and wind turbines.

Making your home “greener” is a smart way to cut energy costs, as well as a low-risk strategy for increasing your home’s market value.

Nicholas Brouillette is vice president and New England regional sales manager for KeyBank Mortgage. He can be reached at 207-874-7035 or at [email protected]