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2013 Energy-Efficient Gifts

In the age of one-click Internet shopping and overnight shipping, we have few excuses for giving bad gifts. Worse gift I ever received? A single pillow case, hot pink and monogrammed (not my initials). Of course, if you really want to give a bad gift—like matching Siberian snow hats or Christmas dinner in a can—the Internet is your best friend.

Here’s our 2013 list of energy-efficient gifts that I hope will be memorable for all of the right reasons.

For the cash-strapped student: Battery rechargers and eco-packages. Help college students and young adults afford an extra package of Ramen noodles with a gift that will help them save some cash and the planet—battery rechargers and rechargeable batteries. Another great gift for college students is an energy saver starter kit from Energy Circle.

For the multi-tasker: ecobutton™. Winner of the Environment and Energy Award for the 2009 Energy Product of the Year, the ecobutton is a simple USB plug-in that instantly puts your computer into energy-saving mode by simply pushing the button (even if you just step away to grab a cup of joe). When you return, tap the button again and your computer will instantly wake up and shows your carbon savings, energy savings and cash savings.

For the do-it-yourself homeowner: Thermal leak detector. Let’s be honest. The real fun of this device is pointing it at random items around your house, like the cat, to see their temperature. I recommend pointing it at your significant other and saying, “Dang, you’re hot!” However, it is actually useful—it can help you locate cold (or hot) spots. With this info, you can add curtains, rugs, insulation, etc. to help keep the warmth in. That’s hot! Available at most home improvement stores.

For the do-it-for-me homeowner: Self-programmable thermostat. Allure Energy has a multi-tasking, self-programming thermostat called the EverSense, that’s designed to save both money and energy. This device actually learns your family’s schedule by using smart phone technology to program your heat and cooling delivery. It’s pricey but the maker, Allure Energy, estimates average monthly energy savings of 20% with this gadget.

For the kiddos: ECO reminder stickers. Quirky and decorative and removable, ECO light switch stickers are an eco-friendly way to remind kids (and adults) of the importance of saving energy. These removable wall art decals by Hu2Design make great stocking stuffers.

Article by Mary LaLone, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.