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Five Ways to Save on Energy Costs
The average American household spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, according to the government’s Energy Star program.
Whether you’re preparing for the heat of summer or for winter’s frigid temperatures—or looking to lower your gasoline expenses—there are many practical ways to cut down on costs, according to the California Society of CPAs (www.calcpa.org). And when you reduce your energy use, the environment benefits from lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The tips below will help you save money and do the earth a favor.
CONDUCT AN ENERGY AUDIT
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can conduct your own home energy audit to identify problems that could be costing you money, such as drafts that let in cold air; insufficient insulation, poorly maintained heating and cooling equipment; or inefficient lighting. The department’s Web site (www.energy.gov) has instructions for conducting an audit.
If you’d like to bring in an expert, many electric or gas utilities offer these audits for free or at a reasonable charge, so find out if one is available in your area.
ADOPT ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY IDEAS
If you conduct a home energy audit, you may find that you can cut costs by taking money-wise steps that will also help the environment. For example, simply unplugging appliances when not in use will lower energy usage. Many appliances draw energy even when not in use. Another good idea is to close the blinds in the summer time to keep out the sun’s heat and to open them in the winter to let in natural warmth. Easy-to-implement ideas allow you to painlessly lower energy use.
PICK THE RIGHT APPLIANCES
If you look for the Energy Star label when selecting any number of products, you’re likely to use less energy, save money and help the environment. These products are not made by any one manufacturer, but they have all met energy-efficiency specifications set by federal government agencies.
There are Energy Star-qualified products in a wide range of categories, including household appliances, heating and cooling equipment, home electronics and office equipment. You can look for the Energy Star label when you shop or find more information online at www.energystar.gov.
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS
This is an easy step to take, but one that will make a difference every day to your bills and to the environment. Many people remember to turn off lights in unused rooms in their homes, but this smart step is sometimes forgotten in an office. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, most of the energy used in the average commercial building is for lighting. Get in the habit of turning out lights at lunch or in empty offices or conference rooms.
PERFORM REGULAR CAR MAINTENANCE
Your home and office aren’t the only places where smart steps will cut down on energy or fuel costs. It’s possible to save $100 a year on gasoline by keeping your car engine tuned up and your tires properly inflated.
CONSULT YOUR CPA
As you can see, there are many simple ways to cut expenses by lowering your energy use. If you interested in learning more about the best steps to reduce costs in any aspect of your financial life, consult your CPA. Your CPA can provide money-savvy ideas that you can apply to your every day life.
To listen to podcasts with more financial tips, go to http://www.calcpa.org/Content/community/financialempowerment.aspx.
Produced in cooperation with the AICPA