Saving Energy Earns Rewards at Earth Aid

energy starWe're all doing out part to conserve energy and to make our home utility bills easier on our wallets. But wouldn't it be an added bonus if the money we saved on our electric bill wasn't just money we saved but money we earned?

A new company, Earth Aid, has a way to reward energy- and water-savers beyond the money they save by turning off lights and turning up the thermostat.
Earth Aid is a free online service that pulls information directly from utility companies. Users can now easily track their home energy use and see what times, for example, they're using the most energy. The website also offers tips on how to best save energy and water in the home.

The site reviews your household's energy consumption from your utility company and then uses it to create a baseline. Earth Aid then provides you with customized advice to become more energy-efficient and follows up by monitoring your next year of energy use. Users earn rewards based on the amount of energy saved.

For every one kilowatt hour of electricity, 10 cubic feet of natural gas, or 20 gallons of water consumers save per month (compared to the previous year's levels), Earth Aid will give its users a point that, like airline miles, can be accrued and redeemed at more than 225 businesses across the country.

"Here's a way that you can begin to measure your home energy or water usage without purchasing any device whatsoever," says Ben Bixby, the company's CEO, in an interview with HousingWatch.

The website currently works with 200 utilities, but Earth Aid plans to have at least ties to 1,000 by the end of the 2010. By then every household will be able to link to at least one of their utilities -- water, gas or electric.

Bixby said the average member saves $10 in electricity per month, or 50 to 75 kilowatt hours, and the average total bill savings per home is around $25. This results in the average member earning about 75 reward points per month, which can be used for such things as gift cards at hotels, restaurants and shops.

There are other ways consumers can get rewarded for saving energy. The federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements runs through the end of 2010. The total available tax credit is $1,500, up to 30% of the cost of each qualified energy-efficiency improvement. And many states are still giving rebates for buying energy-efficient appliances.

These tax credits and rebates, while economically sound, are only useful if you're looking to make home improvements or buy new appliances. But Earth Aid's program is something new, that rewards consumers with credits they can spend quickly, instead of waiting for a tax rebate or appliance rebate.

And Earth Aid isn't the only place to monitor a home's energy savings. Google and Poco Labs each have ways to monitor electric bills online. There are also devices that can be bought at hardware stores to see how much energy various things use in the home, and how much they cost to run. But only Earth Aid gives a little something back to to your household.
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