Black Friday is officially over, which means Christmas is on its way. Lately I’ve been reminiscing about holidays past. I remembered one of my favorite Christmas presents came in 1978. Santa (or perhaps it was my brother) gave me a poster of tennis great, Bjorn Borg. With his flowing blond locks and snow-white sweat band, he’d stolen my heart and earned a prime spot on my bedroom wall.
As an adult, while posters of handsome athletes still have a place in my heart, I’m a bit more partial to practical gifts. So this year, as I created my own list for Santa, I found several energy-efficient gift ideas for my loved ones’ stockings, and in the season’s spirit of giving, thought I’d pass a few on to you.
Wishing you a very happy, safe and energy-efficient holiday season!
2011 Energy Efficient Gift Ideas
My inner energy geek demands that I top my list with a whole house energy monitor. These monitors track and display your home’s electricity use directly from your meter or electric panel. The Energy Detectives 5000 (TED) conveys the information in multiple formats – both over time and in real time – and will accurately project your electricity bill long before it arrives. Meanwhile, you will learn more about conserving energy, saving money, and helping save the environment. TED is maintenance free – no batteries to change – and it’s fully automatic and stores years of data. Not only is TED geeky-cool, but the awareness factor alone can influence you to reduce your energy use making it thrifty-cool, too.
If a television, DVD player, stereo, cordless phone or other electronics are on your list, the ENERGY STAR seal points you to the most energy efficient product models. For example, today’s ENERGY STAR qualified TVs meet new, stricter requirements and offer up to 30% energy savings over standard models. And the ENERGY STAR website makes it easy to browse for products.
Gaming systems don’t come with an ENERGY STAR rating however, last December the Electric Power Research Institute released a report comparing the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. The clear winner for efficiency is the Wii, which uses less than one sixth the power consumed by the other two consoles; 13.7 watts, compared to 8.48 for the PlayStation and 87.9 for the Xbox.
Be sure to pair your gift of electronics with a power strip. It’s also a great stand-alone gift for a college student, new homeowner and anyone who likes gadgets. Smart Strips with auto switching technology are the great option when trying to save on phantom loads. When you plug in the main component, all of the components power down as well.
For the chef in your life, pressure cookers and crock pots and other countertop appliances that can be used in place of the oven can offer energy savings as well as a delicious meal. Pressure cookers use up to 70% less energy than regular pots and pans by sealing in hot air to quickly cook food. And smaller appliances use less energy than heating up your oven.
For gardeners, the charming solar-powered Sun Jar collects sunlight all day and gives off a soft glow at night without electricity or batteries. The classic glass Mason jar shape is an enchanting change of pace to many of the boring solar garden lights on the market.
Outdoorsy folks who like to camp, RV or boat will appreciate a solar battery recharger that plugs into a car phone charger. They come in variety of wattage outputs.
Remember when kids just needed sun and water to have fun? Well, those days are back Sort of. H-Racer Hydrogen Powered Car is a futuristic toy that shows off the potential of hydrogen and solar technology in all its glory by using water and sunlight to produce fuel.
High school and college students especially will love that the Solar Backpack ensures they always have power for all of their devices.
Of course, the cheapest kilowatt is the one you don’t use. So don’t forget gifts like board games, zoo and museum memberships, worm farms or Bjorn Borg underwear.
In the spirit of the season, consider an interesting way to change the world through philanthropy: donate to the Renewable Energy Trust. The RET funds renewable energy projects, such as solar electricity systems, that benefit local schools and nonprofits. These renewable energy systems reduce their overhead costs allowing them to spend more resources on their core missions. And you’ve helped reduce carbon emissions for everyone.
Let your friends and family unwrap some energy savings and your gift will hold meaning long after the fruit cake is thrown away.
Article by Mary LaLone, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.