Big Breaks for Small Businesses: Save Money with Energy-Efficient Initiatives
Remember back in the day when energy-efficiency involved shutting off the water while you brushed your teeth or turning off the lights when you left a room? Well, we’ve come a long way since then, and although those are still good ideas, there are more ways than ever before to save energy by enacting a few simple conservation-centric initiatives and practices. As any small business owner, freelancer or service-based entrepreneur will attest, every little bit counts when it comes to saving. Now, you can even get a break on your business bills and taxes by enacting smaller scale efficiency programs on the federal, state and local levels whether you work out of your home or a separate commercial building. Here are some of the biggest standout options at your disposal: _US Federal_ **Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit** For those small businesses operating out of a home office, this program is a fantastic way to get the federal government to reward you for doing the right thing! Since most (if not all) of you already write-off a portion of household expenses related to the square footage/percentage of your dedicated home office, this is a way to “double dip” into the tax pool come next April. Enacted through December 31, 2016, this rebate program allows a 30% personal tax credit/rebate for renewable energy upgrades to a residence. Most of these program divisions do not have a maximum limit for taking the rebate (previously, they capped the 30% credit at $2,000 worth of qualifying upgrades) and they do not even have to be made to your primary residence! In an eco-nutshell, a taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures, including labor, assembly and wiring connection, for a fully-installed system that serves a dwelling. Overages can be carried forward for tax years up through 2016 (as of now…) and the systems include:
- Solar-electric systems
- Solar water heaters
- Wind turbines
- Geothermal heat pumps
- Switch over to a programmable thermostat. You would be shocked at how much electricity is wasted by running the heating and air units when nobody’s around. Instead, set your thermostat to begin shutting down before you leave the office and start running again before you arrive in the morning. By programming a gradual increase/decrease, you can avoid those drastic HVAC spikes in temperature and in your monthly bill.
- Replace air filters on a regular basis, at least once a month. A debris-free filter means cleaner air to breathe and less work for the HVAC to suck in the air that it cools and heats before it pumps it back out into your spaces. Your electricity invoice – and lungs/sinuses! – will thank you.
- If you do not already have energy-efficient windows and cannot afford or do not want to invest in them at this time, a simpler solution is to apply a fresh bead of caulk around the casings or attach new weather stripping. Leaky windows (and doors) account for a hefty chunk of wasted energy in our homes and offices and eliminating most of the problem is easy.
- Get your window dressings to do some of the work for you. If you have blinds, leave them open in the day to allow as much natural light as possible to illuminate your office but close them to keep out heat and harmful UV rays. If you have drapes, line them with a light colored fabric that will reflect the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere, thereby keeping your AC from working overtime to cool down the hot spots of heat that invade your office through windows.
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