#GiftGreener: Give Lower Utility Bills

December 9, 2019
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It’s the season for splurging on the latest and greatest electronics. While shopping for tech and gadgets this holiday, think about purchasing devices that help to save energy instead of just consuming it. There are tons of household swaps and trendy devices that will help to lower your utility bills and make your life a little easier.

Switch to LEDs 

Brighten up your home this year with unique bulb options that are long lasting and save energy. Choose LED holiday lights or regular bulbs for the home. They come in a wide variety of shapes, styles and colors. If you’re looking for an elegant replacement, check out these designer bulbs or pick up an LED Edison bulb for a warm vintage look. Philips Hue sell smart LED bulbs in whatever color you prefer. MagicLight wifi bulbs connect to your smartphone and respond to Alexa voice controls with color changing and dimming features. Browse a diverse array of accessories to go along with your LED bulb like the Alexa light switch. These products allow you to control the lighting in your home with pre-set schedules and voice commands. LED bulbs and accessories are great gifts that will dazzle your loved ones, set the holiday mood and save them money.

Monitor Your Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat E is another device to turn your house into a smart home. This ENERGY STAR certified product helps to adjust temperature settings in your home in response to weather. You can even change settings in separate rooms to keep everyone comfortable and minimize energy loss. The Nest automatically turns itself down when you’re away and can be manipulated remotely with a smartphone. It has been shown to lower energy bills between 10-15% on average, which could save you over $100 per year. There are multiple rebate programs for this smart thermostat! Pair the Nest with compatible smoke detectors, doorbells, locks and alarms to network your home even more efficiently.

Remember Your Settings: For winter, the ideal thermostat temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home. Energy.gov suggests setting the thermostat to this suggested temperature at home while you’re awake and lowering it while you’re asleep or away. Lowering your thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours can reduce your heating bill by 5-15%.

For summer, the ideal thermostat temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home. Energy.gov also suggests raising your thermostat or turning it off entirely when you are away, because why cool an empty house?

Shop Solar

Solar chargers and backpacks are becoming popular products to keep your devices charged up so you can capture moments on camping trips or off-grid excursions! There are tons of options ranging in size, type, and price. You can find anything from small portable solar chargers to folding panels and power stations. For more mobile options, check out a wide range of solar backpacks.  Remember to keep your camera and laptop charged up and ready to go on the trail with any of these solar powered products. Any of these options would be perfect gift to combine with backpacking equipment or hiking gear.

Gift Alternative Energy 

If your really hoping to give an electronic gift this year, tablets are a great alternative to computers and provide more capabilities than a smartphone. These versatile devices consume less energy than laptops and home computers. They are great for traveling on the go, and provide similar features to a regular computer. If your loved ones already have a tablet, consider gifting an efficiency power strip. By setting a timer or power schedule, you can eliminate “vampire power” or excess energy being wasted on fully charged devices and unused cables left plugged in. Efficient power strips are useful tools that reduce unnecessary energy consumption from appliances, lights, and electronics.

Upgrading to more energy efficient home tech and appliances is a real win-win. You’ll save money, reduce energy usage and create a more comfortable living space suited to your preferences. This is a practical investment with long term rewards and environmental benefits. These products make great holiday gifts that will keep on giving!

This blog post was written by Natalie Sanford, a volunteer with the Department of Environmental Protection and loves ecology, climate science, and sustainable lifestyle alternatives. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Environmental Science and can be found on LinkedIn.

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