Energy Star Small Business, a free service offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is now used by 500 small businesses, helping them to increase their profits by reducing energy costs. Energy Star was launched by the EPA as the latest in a series of voluntary programs that partner the agency with the private sector to prevent pollution at a profit. According to the EPA, small businesses using the information provided through this program have historically saved 30% to 50% on their energy bills and helped prevent pollution voluntarily.

Energy Star Small Business helps remove the barriers, such as lack of time, money and technical know-how, that small-business owners face when implementing energy-efficiency measures. In exchange for basic business-card information, Energy Star offers technical assistance through a toll-free hotline, a directory of lenders and financial resources and a directory of contractors. The subscription-based service also publishes a 90-page guide, Putting Energy Into Profits, full of tips, real-life examples and worksheets to help small-business owners calculate the savings potential of an upgrade.

Jerry Lawson, the program's director, says that with 23 million small businesses in America occupying up to 50% of all commercial buildings and producing 51% of the nation's output, the opportunity for pollution prevention and profit from efficiency is immense. "If every small business cut energy costs by 30%, more than $15 billion a year would go straight to their bottom line," he says.

To use the resources of Energy Star Small Business, small-business owners sign no papers, make no reports and are not restricted in the way they do their upgrades. To sign up visit www.epa.gov/smallbiz on the Internet or call 888-782-7937.