5 Green Products and Gifts…

Save the world.  Save money. Have fun doing it!

Updated – September 3, 2016

1. Smart Thermostat –  Smart thermostats work to adjust your home heater and AC automatically so that you don’t have to program them. They reduce energy usage when you are away from home by automatically adjusting the temperature. On the other hand if you actively want to make a change to the settings you can do that from anywhere through your smart phone. Better yet, if you are at home, you can control smart thermostats with spoken commands if you have a voice activated smart home hub such as Amazon Echo. You can tell your Echo to change the thermostat setting without even standing up. Smart thermostats are a favorite of mine since they fall into the category of products that “just work.” You don’t have to be a tech genius to use or appreciate them. And you will appreciate them. On average they save 14% on your heating and cooling bills. The two top smart thermostats (both of which work with Echo’s Alexa) are:

  • Nest – 3rd generation
  • Ecobee3 –  2nd generation
    Smart Thermostats

2. LED light bulbs – LEDs have the same light color and brightness as normal bulbs. They turn on instantly. They generate over $100 in lifetime energy savings. They save so much infact that you are better off throwing away your old incandescent bulbs instead of using them. Yes, you will waste a bulb, but the wasted bulb costs much less than the electricity that would be wasted if you were to actually use that old incandescent. At this point, LEDs come in nearly every shape and size. For the 3 most common types, follow these links:

LEDx3

3. Amazon Echo –  The Echo, among other things, acts as a smart home hub you can control with your voice. Echo is the main device that uses Alexa, Amazon’s cloud based personal assistant. There are hundreds of smart devices that work with Echo (and thus Alexa), with more becoming compatible every day. Browse through the list of compatible products, and you may find you have trouble limiting your smart home purchases. How does this qualify as an energy efficiency and energy saving device? By making things easier to control, you are more likely to be using electricity when you need it and not when you don’t. For instance you notice that you are a little warm in the winter inside your house. To change the temperature without Echo, you would have to get up and manually adjust it. With Echo, all you have to do is say “Alexa, lower the (thermostat name) by (x) degrees.” Similarly, you can control a smart light light by saying, “Alexa, turn on the hallway light.” or “Alexa, dim the living room to 20%.” Not only will it save you energy, it will be endless fun.

Amazon echo 01 EDIT

4. Spray Foam and Caulking – These two could save you as much or more than your smart thermostat. If your house has lots of gaps and cracks through which hot and cold air can move, this is a must do project. The best instructions on how to effectively seal your home are in this guide from Energy Star.

5. Electric Lawn Mower and String Trimmer – Some ideas are so crazy, it is hard to believe until you have done the math for yourself. This is one of them. Your lawn mower could be causing more pollution than your car. Cars still are far and away the worst offenders in terms of green house gasses. Your mower produces hardly any of those, but as far in terms of your health and the health of your children (such as reducing the risk of asthma), switching to an electric can make a big difference.

Mower and trimmer

That concludes the lower cost items that are easy buy and use. If you are still motivated to make a bigger difference, buy one of the products above for a friend or family member. It will make a much bigger difference than contributing to emissions offsetting organizations, since unfortunately, many of them are outright scams.  Those that are legitimate tend to over promise and under deliver. How to be certain which is which? Your guess is as good as mine. But, consider this, would you rather give your parents a smart thermostat that will save them money, make their lives more convenient, and decrease their energy usage, or would you prefer to give money to a faceless organization that might or might not use it for good? I know what I would pick.

Do you have all 5 products above? Are you are looking for something more to do? Check out the recommendations on our intermediate page. It walks you through how to convert your home and car to run on 100% electricity. Since the grid is 30% clean energy and adding more every year, that’s a great next step.