With so much focus on energy efficiency these days, it's hard to believe that dozens of South Jersey municipalities haven't applied for $20,000 in no-strings grants to conduct energy audits that could point to substantial savings.

The grants, plus funding to implement energy efficiencies, are available through a federal stimulus program under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

With a deadline to apply of Dec. 31, it's good to see that the energy audits are being promoted by volunteers in the "Jersey Call to Service," a program of the Citizens' Campaign, which seeks to involve citizens in their communities.

Founded by Perth Amboy attorney Harry Pozycki, the Citizens' Campaign promotes non-elected public service and citizen-sponsored initiatives to promote what he calls "a culture of savings" in local and state government.

In a recently developed "People's Tool Kit," the energy audits are among the top issues that volunteers are putting before local governing boards. The New Jersey State League of Municipalities is also trying to interest towns in the energy-audit funds.

So much of the rhetoric in Washington after the midterm elections is about the people "having spoken" in favor of tax cuts and government savings. The energy-audit grants represent spending, but with the potential to save taxpayers money down the road.

If citizen volunteers can figure that out, then certainly more elected officials in the state should heed the Citizens' Campaign plea to make sure they get recovery act help in conducting those energy audits.