Gift ideas & home energy improvements

Below we list a small selection of gifts that can provide energy savings. The list includes: Power Monitors, LEDs, CFL and Lampholders, Refrigerators and Freezers, Thermostats, Lighting Fixtures, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Televisions and Other Electronics, Christmas Displays and Lighting, Carbon Emission Offsets, Green Power Certificates, Small Heaters, Curtains, blinds and drapes, Dishwashers

What About Power Monitors?

power monitorPower monitors can make excellent gits. They are relatively inexpensive ($15-$30 online, for most models).

Most homes have unsuspected energy wasters, and products like P3 Kill a Watt, the Black & Decker Power Monitor and other similar devices will help identify such appliances and electronics.

See, for details: Analysing Power Bills

LEDs, CFLs and Lampholders

If you are looking for a symbolic eco-friendly gift, consider LEDs and CFL lights. According to the program, upgrading 15 old incandescent light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs can save about $50/year.

For a more expensive and romantic gift also consider lampholders and qualified lighting fixtures.

See:  Low-Energy Lighting Guide

refrigerator energy efficiencyRefrigerators and Freezers

Old refrigerators and freezers are very energy consuming.

High-performance refrigerators and freezers can cut refrigeration costs by 50% and make a good gift.

Avoid side-by-side units and pay attention to their size (the larger the size the larger the consumption).

See, for details: High-performance refrigerators

Dishwasher energy efficiencyHigh-Performance Dishwashers

If you are going to buy a dishwasher as a Christmas gift, select a low-water consumption model.

The best dishwashers consume less than 2 gallons of water per cycle, which is a fraction of the consumption of older units.

See: Dishwashers High Performance

Programmable thermostat Thermostats

Thermostats can make excellent gifts.

A manual thermostat is inexpensive and a good choice for those who have the time and are willing to actively manage its settings in a regular basis. Otherwise, a programmable thermostat – which doesn’t cost much more – is a better option.

SeeProgrammable vs. Manual vs. Wireless Thermostats

Green electricityGreen Power Certificates

Green Certificates or Renewable Energy Certificates are designed for people who passionately want to help green power production.

When someone purchases a certificate, attesting that a certain amount of green electricity has been or is going to be produced, he is voluntarily supporting a green producer.

In the US, you can buy green certificates through some electric utilities or through specialized marketers.

See, for details: Green Power Guide

Green electricityCarbon Emission Offsets

Like Green Power Certificates, Carbon Emission Offsets are a gift for those who passionately advocate green causes.  

They are issued by developers of projects intended to capture carbon emissions, and buying them is a way of supporting such projects.

In the UK they are associated to “green pricing” and are sold by electric companies, but in North America they are a separate product.

See, for details: Green Power Guide

Lighting Fixtures

Low-energy light fixtures come in dozens of styles and can make a beautiful gift.

They are perfect for those who are using – or intend to use – new efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and LEDs.

New qualified fixtures allow light to be distributed more evenly and efficiently and provide significant energy savings.

See:  High-performance light fixtures

Clip space heaterSpace Heaters

Space heaters, properly used, can provide inexpensive spot and personal heating.

See, for more details: Small heaters Guide

Curtains as a gift ideaCurtains, Drapes, Shades and Blinds

We all know that drapes, shades or blinds are very useful during the summer, to provide shade and reduce heat gains. Covering the windows on the sunny side of house with them can provide significant energy savings.

But, curtains and drapes are aloso useful during the winter. Insulating curtains and insulating drapes can make a big difference.

You just have to close them at night, to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows and glass doors. They will pay you back in energy savings.

Do not forget: approximately 1/3 of a home's heat loss in the winter usually escapes through windows.

Carbon Monoxide gift ideaCarbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives

CO detectors may not be a romantic gift, but they can save lives in homes with combustion gas ranges, unvented combustion space heaters and stoves, or with boilers and furnaces.

The symptoms of CO exposure are very similar to those of the flu, and may go unnoticed.

Unvented combustion heaters and gas ranges may not produce carbon monoxide (Carbon Monoxide, is a product of incomplete combustion) but it’s impossible to know how safely they are without a carbon monoxide detector.

So, why not give one to your family? Have a CO detector in each level of the house. Each one costs less than $30.

See Amazon CO Detectors, for prices and customer reviews

Plasma tv energy efficiencyLow-Energy Televisions and Electronics

Home electronics are now responsible for about 10-15% of household electricity bills. If you are considering buying home electronics and appliances as gifts, consider low-energy products.

When buying computers, home office equipment or home entertaining equipment (TVs, DVD players, audio systems, VCR, converter boxes…) pay attention to their energy labels: the Energy Star label (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), the European Union Energy Labels, or other equivalent energy labels. That's important to select products with low energy-consumption.

See: Low-energy electronics guide

The best heating calculatorsChristmas Gifts & Electric and Decorative Fireplaces

Wood fireplaces heat too little (90% of the heat goes up through the chimney) and emit dangerous pollutants.

Only electric decorative fireplaces - with both heating capability and only-flame effect - are safe.

Stay away from gas and gel decorative fireplaces. Do not consider them as gifts… Their use is questionable, to say the least. There are other means of creating ambiance without emissions and the risk of fire.

See: Decorative Fireplaces

Led lights are energy-savingChristmas Led Lighting and Displays

Keep the Christmas spirit but reduce energy consumption by using energy-saving light strings.

Christmas waste is not just the millions of tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags, or the millions of Christmas trees and millions of tons of food waste that are sent to the landfills. It also involves light pollution and energy waste through Christmas lighting displays.

Consider using decorative LED lights, instead of traditional displays. LED lighting is suitable for both outdoor and indoor displays, last longer and are better for the environment. It will cost you a little more than traditional displays, but you will recover your investment in two or three years, in energy savings.

LED Christmas bulbs and string lights are now available in most improvement stores and also online. Prices around $10-$20 per display are common, though varying with the type of display.

Look for ULCSA or ETL certified LED lights. It’s important for quality, durability and to meet safety standards.

Energy Star certified Christmas string lights are an excellent option. They consume 75% less power than incandescent strings and can last up to 10 times longer. Besides, they reduce the risk of fire, are shock-resistant, available in a huge variety of colors and shapes, come with a three year warranty, have been subjected to weathering tests (in the case of outdoor products) and can deliver special features such color shifting and dimming.




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