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The holidays may not be the best time of year to save money, but it CAN be a great time to save energy! This year, consider giving gifts that will help your loved ones save on utility costs and also help the planet. From smart thermostats to cooking gadgets, enjoy these energy-efficient gift ideas that will keep “giving” long past the holiday season.

OUR TEAM’S FAVORITES

Electronic Streaming Devices

Streaming devices like AppleTV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV are just for streaming Netflix and Disney+. They can also stream live TV using 30-75% less energy than traditional set-top boxes. Most major cable and satellite providers have apps that allow their customers to use these streaming devices instead of set-top boxes. It’s a win-win for the customer; they save on monthly box rental fees AND save on utility costs.

Nest Thermostats

A smart thermostat, like Nest and ecobee, learns from your habits and usage to reprogram itself and save you energy. It cuts back on heating and cooling while you are sleeping or when no one is home. On top of that, you can check for local utility incentives or rewards programs that reduce the purchase price or pay you to participate in peak demand reduction efforts. You can get additional savings with ecobee if you opt in to their Donate Your Data program, which allows customers to share their thermostat data anonymously to universities and nonprofit research organizations like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Led light bulbs

If you’ve got a close family member who has yet to make the switch to LED lightbulbs, chances are it’s because they just haven’t gotten around to it. The swift evolution of LED lightbulbs has created endless options whose pros far exceed any cons when compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. They are now comparable on cost and look and are lightyears ahead on energy consumption (pardon the pun). Do some research in your loved ones’ home to figure out the right kind of LED bulbs that will be needed, then load up at your local hardware store. If you really want to be a hero, bring over your ladder and take care of the laborious task of swapping their old bulbs out for the new ones!

Pressure Cooker/Slow Cooker

Both pressure cookers and slow cookers are extremely energy efficient and much less expensive than more traditional appliances like ovens and stovetops. Consider getting a multi-functional cooker like the Instant Pot, which allows for slow cooking, pressure cooking, and more. Order a fun cookbook to go with it, and this gift is sure to be a hit with the amateur chefs in your family.

MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT GIFT IDEAS

Energy Monitoring Devices

Energy monitoring gadgets like Sense, Neurio, and Smappee are installed in your home’s electrical panel and send you data about energy use and loads. With these tools, you can pinpoint which equipment and appliances consume the most energy. From there, you and your family can make changes to optimize your home’s energy use and lower your utility bill.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution

If you’ve got a big reader in your family, pick up a copy of Thomas Friedman’s 2008 book: Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s book still holds up and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America.

Advanced Power Strips

Advanced power strips will help your loved ones lower energy usage and costs by cutting standby power from electronic devices in your home. If desired, some advanced power strips like Embertec and Tricklestar can also turn of TVs, computers, etc. when they’re not being used.

Thermal Leak Detector

A thermal leak detector will make it easy for your family member or loved one to identify locations in their home where heating and cooling are undesirably leaking in or out of the home. A thermal leak detector uses infrared sensors to detect power draining drafts in the home so they can be plugged by the homeowner. Depending on the climate in which you live, plugging leaks can save up to 20% in heating and cooling costs! Yes, this gift may lead to more work for your loved one, but in our opinion when it comes to energy waste ignorance is NOT bliss.

Smart Lighting

Using smart lighting options that can be controlled via remote app can be a game changer. Products like Phillips Hue, Nanoleaf, and Wyze allow homeowners to turn on and off their lights via Bluetooth, smart phone, smart speaker, or hubs. On top of that, using these smart lighting systems also provide so many energy-saving features like timers, dimmers, and programmable settings for different times or tasks.

Smart Vents

Smart vents can help you manage your HVAC system’s functionality and set the ideal temperature in each room of your home. Instead of traditional vents that must be opened or closed by hand in order to change the temperature of a room, smart vents use motion and proximity sensors to detect which rooms are in use. Target temps for each room are set in advance by you, and the motorized vents automatically open and close to redirect air as needed. Genius!

We hope a few of these gift ideas will help you chip away at your holiday shopping list this year. We wish you lots of love and laughter this holiday season!

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Sustainability Building Science

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Michael Sims
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Michael Sims

From cleaning jobsites during his teenage years to becoming our “chief remover of obstacles and barriers” as our President and COO today, Michael lives and breathes custom homebuilding. He’s been known to geek out on the latest products and best practices in sustainable building, and enjoys sharing his passion with others.

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