25 Ways to Save Money in Your Home-Based Business

Energy & Computer Spending Savvy

13. Buy and use energy-efficient products. Look for the Energy Star label; it was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help reduce unnecessary energy use and air pollution by labeling energy-efficient, cost-saving products for homes and offices.

14. Request an energy audit and off-peak usage discount from your utility company. The energy audit is free, and they'll give you plenty of tips to conserve energy and reduce your power bill. For the discount, get a printout of your energy consumption. "Ask for a discount when your peak usage coincides with their low-point usage," Lyn Richards says. "Many power companies will give a 25-cent-per-kilowatt-hour discount when you do this."

15. Review your telecommunications rates twice a year. Telephone companies (local, long distance and cellular) are always introducing new rate plans, so make sure you're getting the best one for your particular usage. Ask your current company to review your account and let you know if you're getting their best deal. Then contact two or three other companies and ask them for a bid based on your calling patterns.

16. Operate your vehicle efficiently. Combine trips and avoid unnecessary travel. Maintain your vehicle for maximum gas mileage, which means doing things like keeping tires properly inflated, removing unnecessary weight, keeping filters clean, and getting periodic engine tune-ups.

17. Save money by avoiding losses. Protect your electronics from power surges and sags, and backup your computer system regularly. Replacing computer equipment and recovering data takes time and money, notes Tully Smith Callaway, owner of Hospitality Host, a website developer and Internet host in Winter Park, Florida. He recommends avoiding the expense and downtime by investing in a quality surge protector and an uninterruptible power supply. You should also backup your data regularly and store those files in an off-site location.

18. Install antivirus software and keep it updated. Every computer is at risk of viruses these days, Callaway says; practicing "safe computing" can save you the cost of recovering lost data and the related downtime-not to mention the damage to your customer relations if you inadvertently pass along a virus to your customers.

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