If you ordinarily receive large tax refunds, consider withholding less and instead putting the money to work for you, by either saving or investing a comparable amount throughout the year, or using it to pay down debt. Your goal should be to receive little or no refund.
Six years ago, President Bush signed a federal energy bill phasing out energy-wasting light bulbs on a staggered schedule to ensure a smooth and successful transition to more efficient bulbs - and eventually save Americans $13 billion on their annual energy bills.
Switching to energy-saving LED lighting to brighten the holidays and America's homes, businesses, and streets could lower U.S. electric bills by billions of dollars and avoid millions of tons of pollution annually. That would truly be a gift that keeps on giving.
This Sunday (Nov. 3) most Americans will go through the annual ritual of changing clocks back an hour in preparation for winter's gradually decreasing daylight, a period also referred to as "lighting season" because the shorter days mean we'll be using more lights in our homes and businesses.
The chilling truth is that as much as one-tenth of the electricity devoured in our homes vanishes as "standby power" -- electricity feeding our perpetually plugged-in electronics and appliances even when they're idle for long periods of time, like in the dead of night.
Parents may ask kids to turn off the lights. They may talk themselves blue in the face in the hopes that their children make the connection between the light switch and climate change. But do they really?
Using energy efficiently starts at home with simple actions like turning off the lights or computer when they're not being used. The challenge is getting people -- especially kids -- to flip that switch to "off."
"The most important single change for most Americans would be to trade in their gas-guzzler for a more fuel-efficient car... At today's gas prices, that would save you as much as $18,000 over the 15-year life of the car."
If you carry balances on multiple cards, always make at least the minimum payments to avoid penalties. Paying down the highest-rate card first will save the most money overall, but some people find that paying off smaller-balanced accounts first is a better motivator.
Twenty years in, we still have a bold vision, one in which the Energy Star program helps millions of people -- in the U.S. and around the world -- save money, protect their health and the environment, and strengthen an economy that's built to last.
After four years of coping with a stagnant economy, probably the last thing you want to hear is how important it is to sock away money for a rainy day -- you already know that. But hear me out, just in case.