The holiday shopping season is upon us. And just like every year, stores are promising big savings on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s hard to resist impulse buys, but a little research ahead of that big shopping spree can yield some energy-saving gifts that keep giving all year - saving money on the recipient’s energy bill.
Green Gifting - The Gift of Energy Efficiency
A smart plug inserts into a standard outlet and allows you to control whatever is plugged into that device with your smartphone or virtual home assistant. For example, if you forget to turn off the coffeemaker before leaving for the office, a smart plug will enable you to “unplug” it, even if you are miles from home.
Similar to smart plugs, timed chargers are designed to cut off the flow of electricity to your electronic device after a particular amount of time, thus curbing unnecessary power draw as well as saving your battery’s life expectancy.
Smart lighting systems:
These systems feature Bluetooth-enabled lighting (bulbs or strips) for setting up energy-saving LED ambient and task lighting that you can control with your smartphone or virtual assistant.
Smart power strips:
Particularly for the media aficionados and gamers in your life, these make surprisingly good gifts. Some models even allow you to monitor how much energy connected devices consume and can be controlled from anywhere via smartphone.
Programmable or Smart thermostats:
House-wide sensors communicate with your thermostat and smartphone to provide up-to-the-minute temperature information so you can make informed decisions about heating and cooling adjustments.
Thinking outside the oven
Energy-efficient cooking appliances:
According to ENERGY STAR, cooking a meal in a toaster oven or air fryer can save as much as 50% of the energy used to cook the same meal in a conventional electric oven. Slow cookers and Instant Pots also use very little electricity and rely heavily on trapped heat to cook food. Based on its speed and low wattage, an energy-efficient microwave will blow most of these appliances out of the water.
While it is the season of giving, it’s also a great time to treat yourself to energy-efficient products that can help you save energy and money all year long.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine have resources to help utility customers save on energy-efficient products by way of mail-in or online fillable rebate forms and through their online stores. Visit MassSave.com, NHSaves.com, or EfficiencyMaine.com for details.
With the exception of heating and cooling, large appliances make up the largest chunk of our home energy consumption. Here are some additional tips for appliance shopping.
- Size: Take a look at the capacity of the appliance. A two-person family doesn't require nearly the washing machine capacity that a five-person family does. Similarly, an upright or chest freezer operates more efficiently when it’s at capacity.
- Efficiency: In terms of energy efficiency, ENERGY STAR® certified appliances are the way to go. ENERGY STAR also gives a “Most Efficient” designation to appliances that represent the best in energy savings and environmental protection.
- Energy-Saving Options: Does the appliance have settings that further help you save energy? Dryers that use moisture sensors shut off when your desired level of dryness is reached, while machines with timers continue to tumble, long after the clothing is dry.
- Recyclability: Some stores will recycle your old appliance when you purchase a new one, saving you the time and effort of a trip to the transfer station. Search around, there may an opportunity to arrange a pickup of old, inefficient refrigerators and freezers, and they may even pay you for them such as these rebates at nhsaves.com/rebate and masssave.com/shop.
Other Ways to Save this Holiday Season
According to energy.gov, you can expect to save 1% on your heating bill for every degree that you lower the thermostat. That’s easier said than done if you live in a household full of chronically chilly humans. But it’s easy to dial back the thermostat when the whole household is well-equipped with the cozy necessities. Stock up on comfy housecoats, warm slippers, fuzzy socks, inviting blankets, and fluffy comforters to snuggle under. Pair these with a super speedy electric kettle for your favorite hot beverages and the battle of the thermostat might not be such a long and drawn-out saga this winter.
Trade that tangle of Christmas lights you have stashed in the attic for energy-efficient LED string lights. LEDs use 75% less electricity, last 25 times longer, and they’re safer because they remain cool to the touch. Looking for an even slicker upgrade? Shop around for smart Christmas lights - not only are they LED and programable, but they can also do some nifty tricks. Ever wanted to switch up your display halfway through the season? Change colors and designs right from your phone. There are 16 million light combinations available. These options do cost more than their counterparts, but chances are you’ll have them for many years to come.
- The holidays can be a great time to take advantage of savings on household items that decrease your carbon footprint and save money in the process.
- Thinking outside the oven could cut your cooking energy usage in half.
- Heating your home is the highest portion of most households’ energy bills in the winter. Alongside weatherproofing, lowering the thermostat is the best way to save this time of year.