Finally, spring has arrived here on the East Coast. While hiking earlier this week I spotted several of spring’s earliest flowers out, which felt like a miracle after the horrible winter we’ve had in Philadelphia (I prefer NOT to have 25 snow snowstorms in nine weeks, thanks).
As I’ve enjoyed watching the trees and plants shoot out little green buds, my mind has turned to all things green. We spent a great deal of money this winter on our heating bill thanks to the polar vortex, and we’d like to find ways to save money when it comes to energy consumption, while also being more green.
As Earth Day rapidly approaches (it’s on April 22!), it’s a good time for all of us to be thinking green. So I started doing some research on great eco-friendly gadgets that we can all use to save money and help the environment. There’s some great stuff out there.
In-Ground Solar Light
I’ve always liked those lovely little solar lights you can put along your walkway, but I’ve noticed that many of them look rather rickety (that’s a technical term) and are a trip risk, particularly during the day. Luckily Ikea has come along and created this awesome new in-ground solar light that won’t trip anyone, and they’re only $9.99!
Heatworks Water Heater
This little guy — about the size of a football at 12.5 inches long and about 6 inches wide — is, believe it or not, a water heater. How does it work? Well, according to the Kickstarter campaign, “It uses state of the art electronic technology to directly energize and heat the water molecules, rather than heating the water with old-school resistance heating elements.” Pretty cool. The project raised $300,000 more than its goal, so it’s likely to hit the markets soon. And priced at only $395, this could be a real game changer.
Philips Endura Bulb
Light Bulbs have become incredibly confusing. At first we were all supposed to switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents, but then it turns out the fluorescents are impossible to dispose of because they contain mercury. Now people are suggesting LED bulbs are the best alternative because they last forever and are simple and easy to dispose of. That’s where the Philips Endura L-Prize Award Winning LED light bulb comes in.
While it’s wildly expensive for a light bulb — Amazon has it right now for about $70 — it is supposed to last for twenty years (I’ve also found it elsewhere for about half that). Not only is it a long lasting bulb, it’s fully dimmable.
Personal Energy Generator
While there are myriad devices that can hold a charge for your smart phones, the nPower PEG Personal Energy Generator is the only one that collects kinetic energy and stores it in the battery for recharging. At a mere 14 ounces (less than a bottle of water), you can toss it into a pack and let it collect your energy for a brief charge.
Best of all, even if its drained, shaking it for ten minutes will give you enough charge for a phone call. $96.93 at REI.
Smart Window Air Conditioner
We live in an older house and use window units to cool down in the dog days of summer, and we need to buy at least one new one this year. I’ve got my eye on this lovely GE Aros Smart Window Air Conditioner. This compact little guy not only cools 350 square feet down well, it’s smart — it learns your patterns and modifies your use to keep it more efficient.
Plus, it also works remotely with a phone app, so if you’re going to be home later or earlier than usual you can adjust the temp so your room is nice and cool when you get home. $300 for pre-order on Amazon.
ARTCOOL Air Conditioner
What’s that pretty thing up there? Believe it or not, that is also an air conditioner. It’s LG Electronic’s ARTCOOL Stylish Inverter V. This gorgeous thing hangs on your wall like a piece of art. There is no need for a drain for excess condensation (how do they do that?) and it’s only about five inches thick, so it’s going to be pretty easy to install. Pricing has yet to be announced, and no idea when it will be available in the U.S., alas.
Dual Flush Converter
Want to save 15,000 gallons of water a year? Then you need the BlueSource HYR270 HydroRight Drop-in Dual Flush Converter by MJSI. No one wants to discuss what’s in the bowl when you flush, but as we all know, four out of five times it’s just liquid in there and doesn’t need all that much water to flush away. This converter offers you two flush settings; one for liquids and a strong flush for, er, solids. And at only $19.98 on Amazon, it pays for itself the first week.
SCG Energy Saving Smart Strip Surge Protection
While you are probably already using a powerstrip for your electronics at home, you might not be using one that’s designed to save you money by preventing “vampire” power draining when your appliances aren’t in use. The SCG Energy Saving Smart Strip Surge Protection strip offers not only the ability to cycle the power off to certain electronics, it also offers a better design that can accommodate the larger size of some plugs. $30.95 at Bits Unlimited.
Bamboo Bluetooth Keyboard
Not only is the iZen Bamboo Bluetooth Keyboard beautiful (I can’t wait to buy one for myself), it’s also renewable and 100% recyclable. Traditional plastic keyboards can contain some toxic elements that make them difficult to recycle. But this lovely keyboard (which has a matching bluetooth mouse, of course) is the perfect non-toxic alternative plus it’s rechargeable via USB cable, so no more batteries! $79 at iZen.
Click and Grow Herb Garden
As I venture more and more into cooking for my family, my desire for fresh herbs increases. I’ve been buying fresh basil, for instance, at the grocery store but I cannot keep it alive for long, no matter what I do. I also don’t have space outside for a garden. This is why I find the Click and Grow smart herb garden (funded on Kickstarter) so interesting.
It’s quite adorable, and comes with three pots for herbs, and best of all, it’s own light source so you don’t need to worry about finding a window (this has been a problem as all of our windows on the first floor offer little direct sunlight). And to make it further idiot proof, it contains a water tank and a group of sensors so it waters itself as well — you just need to fill the tank periodically. Perfect for this girl with a black thumb. $99.95 and available for pre-order.