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STAY WARM, SPEND LESS! TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU STAY TOASTY-WITHOUT ICING YOUR WALLET
*GET YOUR DUCTS IN A ROW: Sealing the ductwork in your home is a great way to improve efficiency because 25 to 40 percent of the air is lost through leaks.
*HEATING UNIT: 50% of U.S homes have a heating source older than 10 years old. New heating systems could improve efficiency by 97%.
*SETTINGS: Lowering your thermostat by 15 degrees at night could save you 5 to 15 percent per year on your heating bill. The average cost of electricity in U.S. homes last year was 12.4 cents, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
*ANNUAL BILL: The annual bill for energy spending in the home per person, from the Department of Energy is $750, which is 2.7% of the average amount of household income spent on a home's energy bill.
*ATTIC: Adding insulation in your attic is the top energy-saving move.
*DRAFTS: You can lose a lot of heat through leaks around windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Try using the smoke from a stick of incense to see where the drafts are coming from.
*WATER HEATER: You can save nearly $60 annually just by turning down the temperature of your water heater from 140 degrees F. to 120 degrees F.
3 Last Minute Tax-Related Money Savers:
*CONTRIBUTE TO AN IRA: You have until 15 April to contribute to a 2014 traditional IRA, potentially reducing your taxable income. The maximum deductible contribution is $5500 for those under age 50 and $6500 for those age 50 and older. Your deduction will be limited based on income and whether you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work. Do you own a small business? Then you might be eligible higher income and contribution limits through a simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA or a Savings Incentive Match Plan (Simple) IRA. Go to irs.gov and search for IRS Publication 590, "Individual Retirement Arrangements," for details on contributions and income limits.
*GIVE TO THE IRA OF A YOUNG RELATIVE OR SOMEONE ELSE STARTING OUT: Lower-income workers of all ages will benefit in three ways: more savings, less taxable income, and, if they're not medically insured through your plan or one at work, a larger health care subsidy.
*DEPLETE LAST YEAR'S FLEXIBLE-SPENDING ACCOUNT: Depending on your employer's rules, you might have until March 15 to use the remaining balances on allowable medical expenses.