With summer upon us, it’s a great time 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 carbon footprint and save you some serious cash.
The first step in lowering your energy use is determining how much energy your appliances use 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 an 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.
If you want more comprehensive monitoring of your home’s energy consumption, you might consider the Sense Energy Monitor. The system comes with a higher price tag, but it provides additional insights, such as identifying patterns in your energy use to help you be more efficient.
Almost as Good as Hanging Laundry in the Sun
When you test your appliances, you’ll find that your dryer is one of the greediest energy consumers in the house. A great option during the summer months is to hang your clothes out to dry on a clothesline. Yes, a clothesline is decidedly low-tech, if’s one of the greenest gadgets you can use for drying the laundry.
If you don’t have space for a clothesline or the time to wait for laundry to air dry, consider purchasing Nellie’s Dryerballs. Dryer balls can reduce your drying time by as much as 25 percent.
Cooking With the Sun
You’ll also find that your oven uses a lot of energy. One green gadget to consider, especially during the summer, is a Sun Oven. It takes a little longer to make your favorite solar oven recipes, but you’ll be so busy enjoying the sunshine, you probably won’t notice!
If you’re looking for a project, you can make your own DIY solar oven from materials like cardboard 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 manual mower, which is guaranteed to give you a good workout while beautifying your yard. Many options exist for both types of mowers, so be sure to read reviews to see which type might work best for your yard.
Smarter Power Consumption
There are several types of “smart” power strips that you can set to shut your devices when they are in standby mode. Some of these gadgets can be set to power off during times of the day when your electronics or appliances are not in use. Check out the AHRISE Smart Plug — or the VOCOlinc Smart Power Strip, which works with Alexa.
Charging while you’re in the great outdoors? Solar chargers collect energy from the sun to charge your portable electronics. Check out X-Dragon’s waterproof, phone-sized solar charger. If you need a larger array that’s compatible with numerous types of wires, consider AIMTOM’s 60-watt charger that folds up smaller than a briefcase.
If you’re feeling like getting some exercise while you charge your phone, a bike-powered charger may be what you’re looking for. If you’ve got the technical knowhow, you can build one for yourself at home!
Water, Wind, or Human-powered Charging
The WaterLily Turbine is a multi-source power generator. It can charge phones, cameras, batteries, and more by using the power of flowing water or airflow. The charger can also be powered by hand, in case there’s no wind or water to leave the turbine in.
Research Before You Purchase
No matter what gadgets you invest in, be sure to do your research first. Invest in electronics you will use for a long time and made by 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.
And when your electronic gadgets wear out, recycle them. Many electronics are made of valuable metals and other recyclable materials that can be reused to make new products. Use Earth911 Recycling Search 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.
Read more from Libuse Binder at Weekly Way. Originally published on June 7, 2010, this article was updated in June 2020.