When buying gifts this holiday season, think “smart strip,” “twist,” and LED. All of these gifts will conserve energy and save you money.
1) Consider giving a smart strip. Smart strips help reduce standby power consumption – often called vampire or phantom power. Vampire power accounts for 5-10% of your total household electric consumption, but using a smart strip can help you save between $100 and $150 a year. Smart strips vary, but most have three main parts: a control outlet, auto-off outlets, and constant outlets. There are three types of smart power strips. One type is controlled by a programmable timer that can be set to automatically turn devices off or on at designated times of day or night. The second type is controlled by a motion detector. The third type senses when a device enters sleep mode or is turned off and then it turns off the other devices.
2) Give “twisty” lights, better known as CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lamps. They use about 75% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Keep your CFLs burning longer by doing the twist. This means screw the CFL in by holding the ballast. That’s the white plastic part at the base of the CFL.
3) Give LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The price of LEDs is falling. An LED bulb is a good option for lights in inconvenient places, like the ceiling of your great room. The light lasts significantly longer and costs less. There are several other LED gift options, such as a motion sensing night light. It costs pennies to operate and lights your way in the dark. Maybe some LED candles to reduce fire risks in your home while still providing the ambiance you desire.
4) For the person who wants to know the cost of everything, give them a watt or energy meter. These meters measure the energy used when electronic devices are plugged in, but not being used. There is even an App to help track your energy use over time and then develop ways to reduce energy use. The Kill-Ur-Watts App can be downloaded for free on iTunes. It provides graphs and lets you see your carbon footprint. It was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy Apps for Energy challenge.
5) Give solar powered outdoor lighting. It doesn’t cost anything to use and it can be used to light a pathway, helping prevent trips and falls.
6) For the techie person, give them a next generation programmable thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of these. It connects to your Wi-Fi then sets about learning your behavior patterns and desired temperatures. Your heating and cooling habits will be learned in about one week. You can even download an App to monitor and adjust temperatures remotely.
7) Give water savers, like a low-flow showerhead, faucet aerator, or a shower timer. Not the sexiest gifts, but you can reduce water consumption along with the energy used to heat the water. Ultimately you save money. Look for a WaterSense labeled showerhead.
Have fun shopping for unusual and useful gifts for your family and friends. Wishing you and your family joyful energy saving holidays!