Adding green technology to a home can help homeowners save money in the long run, but some may not be able to afford the upfront investment. Several tax credits effective this year, however, can help homeowners – and buyers – save on green updates.

Here are two main tax credits available for those interested in making energy efficient improvements to their homes:

1. Wind, solar, geothermal and fuel cell tax credit: This tax credit is available for existing homes and new construction. Homeowners can receive a credit up to 30 percent off the cost of their improvements between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 this year. The following green updates qualify: Geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems, and fuel cells.

2. Qualified energy efficiency improvements
: This credit gives a 10 percent tax credit for purchases “placed in service” between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. The maximum credit for a taxpayer for all taxable years is $500, and no more than $200 of such credit may be attributable to expenditures on windows. This rule means that taxpayers who have claimed $500 or more of this tax credit in prior years, particularly 2009 and 2010, can no longer participate in the program.