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Light a fire under execs to perform an ‘energy audit’

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Issue: Some utilities and government groups offer businesses free energy audits.

Benefit: By suggesting such audits, you position yourself as a strategic thinker looking out for the organization's bottom line.

Action: Do your homework on local offerings before suggesting a course of action.

Here's a small way to show higher-ups that you can think big: Organize a free energy audit that can spot cost-saving techniques at your organization.

Many utilities and government groups offer such audits, and they're increasingly popular. That's because energy conservation allows utilities to delay construction of expensive new power plants.

Advice: Contact your local utility first to see what it offers. Some provide free Web-based tools to walk you through potential energy savings. Other utilities may send workers to your site to help you identify areas of potential energy savings.

Examples: Pacific Gas and Electric offers audits, rebates for replacing energy guzzling equipment and conservation training.

Others offering free audits: the New York State Energy Research and Develop-ment Authority, Louisville Gas and Electric Co. and Indiana's Energy Policy Division.

Good federal options: The U.S. Energy Department offers manufacturers free energy audits through its industrial assessment centers. To find out if you're eligible, visit and click on "Plant Assessments."

Final tip: Look into motion detectors that turn off lights in unused rooms.

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