Top Green Gizmos for Summer

Share this idea!

Electricity bill are rising. Now you can cut down on costs and find out what appliances are actually worth keeping plugged in. Fight the vampire power! Photo: Kill A Watt

With summer upon us, there is no better time than now to reduce your energy use with these innovative green gadgets. Whether using innovative technology or harnessing the power of the sun, these gadgets all have the potential to reduce your footprint and save you some serious cash.

Kill A Watt

The first step in lowering your energy use is determining how much each appliance uses in the first place. Plug your appliances into the Kill A Watt, and an easy-to-read meter will tell you how much energy is being used.

You can use this information to determine if it’s time to use the appliance less or even upgrade to a more efficient model. For information about the most efficient models on the market, check out appliance ratings at Energy Star.

Almost as good as hanging it out to dry

You’ll find when you test your appliances that your dryer is one of the greediest energy consumers in the house. Your first option, especially during the summer months, is to hang your clothes out to dry on a clothes dryer. Yes, it’s decidedly low-tech, but probably one of the greenest devices you can use during the summer months.

If you don’t have the access or time to make this possible, consider purchasing Nellie’s Dryerballs, which can reduce your drying time by up to 25 percent.

Cooking with the sun

You’ll also find that your oven uses a lot of energy, and one alternative to consider especially during the summer is a Sun Oven. With a bit of research on the Internet, you can also find detailed instructions on how to make your own DIY sun oven from materials like cardboard, all for less than $40.

The power of the push

While you are outside, you may notice that your lawn needs a little trim. Rather than a gas mower, consider using an electric model or even a push mower, which is guaranteed to give you a good workout while beautifying you yard. Many options exist now for both types of mowers, so be sure to read reviews to see which type might work best for your yard.

Automatic shut off

There are now several types of “smart” power strips that can be set to shut off when your devices are in standby mode, or that can be set to power off during times of the day when your electronics or appliances are not in use. Check out the Smart Strip Power Strip or the Bye Bye Standby Energy Saving Kit.

The Solio cell phone charger has an integrated solar cell to allow for “mobile charging,” as the photovoltaic solar cell is capable of charging a lithium ion battery using just the sun’s rays. Photo:

Powered by the sun

Solar chargers from Solio come with a variety of cables and tips to allow you to easily charge all of your devices from cell phones to cameras. The chargers collect energy from the sun, and then plug directly into all of your portable electronics.

The Solio Mono Hybrid Charger takes about 10 hours to charge directly through sunlight, with peak charging times between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The charger is compatible with many phone models, as well as digital cameras and other portable electronics.

…Or the wind

The HYmini charger works in a similar way to the solar chargers, but banks wind power instead of solar. HYmini also makes solar chargers, and you can buy a charging pack from the company that includes both wind and solar chargers.

Store, recharge and accessorize!

Of course, you need something to hold that extra cash and all of those new green gadgets. The stylish bags from Noon Solar offer this service as well as the capability to charge your electronics.

There is a solar panel on the outside of the bag that collects energy and funnels it to a battery pack in the bag. On a sunny day, the pack will fully charge in 6-8 hours, and the energy will stay stored in the pack for several days.

Remember the 4th “R” – research

Of course, no matter what gadgets or technology you decide to invest in, be sure to use your electronics for as long as possible and to recycle them when done. Many electronics are made of valuable metals and other recyclable material that can be reused to make new products. Use Earth911’s recycling locator to see what you can recycle near you, or use a service like Greendisk that makes recycling e-waste as easy as mailing in a box.

Also do your research before making new electronic purchases. Check out Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics which rates companies as “greener” based on various criteria. Look for companies that…

  • Clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances.
  • Take back and recycle their products responsibly once they become obsolete.
  • Reduce the climate impacts of their operations and products.

Read more from Libuse Binder at Weekly Way and Ten Ways.

Related articles
Greener Gadgets You’ll Love
Top Electronics Questions

Recent Posts


  1. Some of these items I have heard of. Such as the solar charger for your labtops and other devices like IPod’s and telephones. But, I have never in my life heard of a solar outdoor Oven you can make to cook food. I heard of cooking food under the hood of your car, while you go for a drive somewhere? I have never personally done it. I would be too afraid of the fumes and the smell??? But, we need to come up with more items such as these in the future to help our environment out. Thanks for sharing these things with us and I will pass it on that’s for sure. I am very environmentally conscious in my home. I live in Portland Oregon. We recycle alot of our garbage and conserve energy alot here in our STATE of OREGON, we love to KEEP OREGON GREEN. That’s one of our trademark sayings to the public and we abide by it here in the State.

  2. It’s unfortunate that people got out of the habit of using clotheslines. They save so much energy, and it is kind of peaceful to hang the clothes.

    We live in an apartment and don’t have a clothesline, but still air dry our clothes by using this laundry drying rack – since it’s round it works really nice under the ceiling fan!

Leave a Comment