“Going green” is a hot topic these days. More and more people are trying to make changes that reduce energy usage, minimize landfill waste and support environmental sustainability. In fact, 90 percent of Americans say they buy green products at least sometimes, according to market researcher Mintel.
But how does one go green? Because it’s tough to give a precise answer, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers some easy-to-implement ideas that are friendly to both the environment and your wallet:
Take Advantage of Incentives
Many states give rebates to consumers who purchase appliances carrying the Department of Energy’s Energy Star label. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), these rebates are for purchases made to replace used products, ranging from water heaters and furnaces to dishwashers, refrigerators and room air conditioners.
The ARRA also features enhanced tax incentives that encourage individuals to make more energy-efficient home improvements. An energy-smart purchase cannot only cost you less, but also lower your utility bills over time. Turn to your CPA for more details on these opportunities. In addition, the Department of Energy’s website (www.energysavers.gov) provides many tips on energy efficiency that can help you reduce carbon emissions and lower your utility bills.
Find Out Who’s Going Green
Being kind to the environment doesn’t necessarily mean you may have to dig deeper in your pocketbook to go to a specialty store to buy earth-friendly items. In fact, that’s really not the case. Many big retailers have changed their operations or policies to do a better job of supporting environmental sustainability and used their purchasing power and economies of scale to promote environmentally friendly efforts, such as being more energy efficient.
So before you spend extra money on products or stores that advertise themselves as earth friendly, find out what your usual tried-and-true shopping choices are doing to change their habits. Local stores may have information about their efforts, or you might be able to get details on a chain store’s website. You may find that many of your long-time favorites are more environmentally friendly than you thought.
Small Steps Add Up
There are many small steps you can take each day that will reduce waste and save you some money. Lower your home thermostat settings, especially during hours when your home is empty and heat or air conditioning are being wasted. Walk or bike instead of driving whenever possible. Use a thermos for water, coffee or other drinks from home instead of buying these beverages in disposable containers. As part of your own personal recycling effort, look into online sites or garage sales for inexpensive, gently used items. You may find some great and useful bargains. All of these simple efforts lower your expenses, making it possible to save green while going green.
Consult Your CPA
Your local CPA can help you reach any financial goal, whether it involves changing your spending habits, saving for your future or lowering and managing your debt. Turn to him or her for answers to all your family’s financial questions.
If you don’t have a CPA, you can easily locate one online using the NJSCPA’s free, online Find-A-CPA service. Just go to www.findacpa.org, and in a few clicks you can locate a highly qualified professional who can assist you.
For more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at www.MoneyMattersNJ.com. While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA’s free, monthly email newsletter to receive valuable personal financial planning advice throughout the year.
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