Get energy bill savings with these tips

Although gasoline prices are heading upward once again, they are nowhere near last summer's average high of $4.11 a gallon, meaning that you could drive more for less. But is that smart?

As a matter of fact, one of the bright spots in this turbulent economy is that it will actually cost significantly less to power your home and vehicles this year than last year. With "frugality" being the hot buzzword in this tough economy, here are four more ways to cut energy costs and get energy bill savings:

Road Trip Savings: Planning a vacation road trip this spring or summer? Save substantial money on gasoline by planning ahead, checking on critical maintenance beforehand, and adopting some driving behaviors on the road with Drive $marter Challenge vacation resources as well as specific vacation tips on the bottom third of the webpage.

Save at home: Unemployed, home more, and watching your home energy bills soar? When a home is in use 24/7, more energy is used for heating or cooling, lighting, home office equipment, electronics, water, and other needs. The Alliance to Save Energy's consumer website offers an entire section on Tips to Lower Your Energy Bills.

Home office budget reductions: Operating out of a home office? Millions of people around the country have a home-based business, telecommute regularly from a home office, or are job hunting from home. Invest in these money-saving home office tips to improve your "bottom line."

Beat the tax man with a $1,500 home energy efficiency tax credit. There's no better time than this year or next year to improve your home's energy efficiency. Certain home energy efficiency improvements are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $1,500 through the end of 2010 as part of the February "stimulus" package. The Alliance provides all pertinent details on home and vehicle tax credits. The tax credit increases the federal income tax refund you would get or lessens the money you would otherwise owe. In addition, these improvements would simultaneously reduce your monthly energy bills, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

For more cost-savings, look into potential energy-efficiency incentives in your area from upcoming stimulus monies from your state or local government, as well as any available rebates from utility companies, retail stores, and manufacturers. All of these could add even greater savings to the federal tax credits, as well as to your home energy bills.

Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers home remodeling ideas each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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