What is it about going green that is so appealing? Even if its not your favorite color, going green can benefit the environment, your health and reduce energy consumption, as well as overall energy costs.

You may already recycle, use public transportation, buy local products or simply turn off the lights when you leave the room. While these simple practices can greatly reduce your overall impact on the environment, now is the perfect time to think about a total green renovation for your home.

If the cost of a project is holding you back, you still have time to take advantage of the 2009-2010 Federal Energy Tax Credit for making energy-related home improvements.

The tax credit allows homeowners to claim tax credits equal to 30 percent of product and installation costs up to $1,500 for qualified energy-related home improvements. It applies as a direct reduction of taxes owed. Youll have to make a decision soon, because the 2009-2010 Energy Tax Credit expires at the end of this year.

The most helpful step you can take when transforming your home into a completely green living environment is planning. These tips can help green light a well-planned renovation:

* List your needs and goals before you do anything. Find a contractor who is skilled in traditional building trades and understands how to design projects to be energy-, water- and resource-efficient.

* Work with your builder on a master plan for your project. Think about downsizing your current space.

* Consider heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) needs by upgrading mechanical systems. A hybrid comfort system, like those from American Standard Heating Air Conditioning, is ideal for a green renovation. A hybrid system alternates between two different energy sources depending upon temperature, settings and efficiency, making it one of the most efficient and flexible heating and cooling systems available.

* Design systems that minimize water use and maximize water distribution efficiency. Plan for future wiring and cabling needs when considering the lighting, electronics and appliances.

* Reuse old materials or take them to a company that accepts well-preserved demolition waste and intact building materials. Buy reclaimed material, such as reclaimed pine timbers, for flooring.

* Purchase materials that are durable, easy to maintain and will age gracefully. Research products that contain recycled content and are sourced locally.

Once youve completed your renovation its important to maintain your green renovation efforts so they last for years. The longer you stay a part of the green scene, the smaller your carbon footprint.

Hybrids arent just for cars anymore

A hybrid comfort system combines an electric heat pump with an oil or natural gas furnace for warmth and comfort for the cold nights, and effective, efficient cooling in the summer months. A heat pump doesnt use up fuel making heat, it just moves it. With a hybrid system you have ultimate flexibility for greater efficiency in all seasons. To learn more, go to www.americanstandardair.com or contact your local independent American Standard Heating Air Conditioning dealer who can help decide which components are right for your homes energy sources.