MNN Galleries

6 green ways to invest your income tax refund

By: Shea Gunther on April 18, 2011, 10:43 a.m.
digital energy monitor

Photo: Energy Circle

4 of 8

Energy efficiency

Saving money is just as good as making money, as far as your bank balance is concerned. Investing your tax return on boosting your energy efficiency is a smart way to both reduce your environmental footprint and to cut down on your monthly bills. There are a lot of ways that you can boost how efficiently you use energy (augmenting your home’s insulation, installing more efficient windows, finding and sealing gaps around the foundation), and some are even fun and cool to use (energy monitors, programmable thermostats, foam guns).

My friends at Energy Circle are a great place to look for both energy-efficient products and information. They understand that it can be a complicated task to sort through the options in the world of energy efficiency, and they've worked hard to be as strong on education as they are commerce.

For a little under $50 you can pick up a Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Monitor, while the top-of-the-line "world's first comprehensive circuit-by-circuit home energy monitor and management system" runs $689. A BITS Smart Strip Power Strip is super affordable at $28, and three crank-powered emergency flashlights are just under $90.