Whether you are looking at saving the planet from environmental evil villains or looking to save a little money, there are plenty of cool gadgets out there that will help you along the way. If you are a real tech geek, I’ve included some really cool stuff but I’ve also included some other options for those that just care about savings.
Old incandescent bulbs are energy-wasters. CFL bulbs have a reputation of burning out every month. And everyone thinks that LED bulbs are expensive. LEDs are getting less expensive (some places have them around $5 each now) and there are even instant rebates for LEDs in some stores. LEDs use only about 9 watts compared to an equivalent 60 watt incandescent. I’m a huge fan of them and after I switched from incandescent bulbs in my house, I saved around $50 a month.
Staff Choice: Any CREE LED bulb (a 60 watt equivalent is only approximately $5, depending on the store)
Geek Choice: Philips Hue Wifi LED Bulb. This is really cool because you can change the colors and brightness right from your phone or tablet. Downfall? The $200 price tag for a starter kit that comes with three bulbs and a control module. Here’s how it work:
We still see old thermostats that are not programmable in houses every day. Programming your thermostat to adjust the temperature during the times when no one is home is a great way to shave some off your utility bills. If you have one of these old, static thermostats, upgrading to just a 5-day or 7-day programmable thermostat is substantial. But here are some other really cool choices.
Staff Choice: Nest Thermostat. Developed by former-Apple programmers, this device is what is considered a smart thermostat. In a nutshell, you set the temperatures for a week and it will learn your behaviors from there on forward. You can access it through your phone as well. The biggest thing we love is that they now have a smoke/CO detector that communicates with the thermostat. So if the device detects carbon monoxide, it will communicate with the thermostat and shut down your furnace (if it’s gas, of course) to prevent more CO production. And in addition to looking really cool on your wall, it’s owned by Google. With the power of Google behind it, there is no telling how cool these devices can get.
Geek Choice: Honeywell Wi-fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control. I haven’t had the chance to play with this little energy-saving gadget but I’m sure it’s really cool. I mean, c’mon, you can “Jedi mind trick” it. It does come with a hefty price tag of $299. But with that said, it is only $49 more than the Nest.
Here’s another thing that I think will be the norm for homes in the not-so-distant future….home automation (or smart home). It’s not really marketed as an environmental or energy-saving device but I can really see the benefit for energy savings. The idea that you can control your electronics from your phone from anywhere is astonishing. But this isn’t just for energy-saving features, it’s for safety and security features as well. You can control door locks, view live security camera video feed, and notifies you if a window or door opens or shuts. It will even notify you if your dog has left your yard unexpectedly.
Staff and Geek Choice: Smart Things. There’s a variety of starter kits you can buy starting at $179 and there’s different modules to purchase for different needs. What is cool is that you can mix and match to your needs. Check out this video.