Isn't it time that you made an investment in making your home and car a little greener? Even if you're already driving a Prius and recycling everything imaginable, there are a number of devices that can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money to boot. You can start by deploying these five inexpensive 'Green Devices' that we highly recommend - not only because they're affordable but because they're cost effective. Each of these gadgets has a return on investment that can be measured in months with a price tag that everyone can afford.
P3 International Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
We've mentioned this device before and once you get your hands on it, you'll have scientific proof that "what gets measured gets done". That's what the Kill A Watt does. This simple device will tell you the Wattage of every electronic device in your house that uses a standard plug. It also accumulates wattage over a time so you can get an average for devices that spike like refrigerators. Once you've measured every device in your house, you'll be shocked at how many of them pull more energy than you ever thought. What's really going to blow you away is the amount of energy consumed by some devices when they are in a low power standby state. It will take you about a week, but you'll likely cut 15-20% off your electrical bill if you are religious about using it. So for most users, it will pay for itself in a month or two.
Cons: The cheapest models ($20) do not have back-lit displays and plug directly into the socket which makes it difficult to read. You can buy the next model up or just use an extension cord. Be cheap, use an extension cord and save the $15.
Bye Bye Standby Energy Saving Kit
Once you've identified the biggest energy hogs in your house, set them up on the Bye Bye Standby. As the name suggests, it targets that phantom electricity that devices use when they aren't in use. That receiver that you leave on all the time costs you $30 a year when it's not in use. Triple that for the fancy Fax/Scanner/Copier that you bought a few years back. Sure you could go and unplug each of these devices every night but eventually, the chiropractor bills will offset your cost savings. The Bye Bye Standby comes with a remote control that operates up to 3 adapters. Get it, and with one click your phantom energy will go away. Hook it up to your TV, DVD, receiver, etc to save a healthy chunk of change. At $20, it pays for itself in under 6 months.
Cons: Like the old hotdog/bun mismatch, the Bye Bye Standby comes with a remote that can handle 3 adapters but they only put two adapters in the package. Adding that extra one can be nearly as expensive as buying another kit.
RSVP Compost Pail
Haven't tried composting yet? Well, normally almost a third of all your garbage is organic materials that really shouldn't be heading to a landfill. Composting involves collecting these organic materials and then using them to nourish the soil in your back yard. Once you start composting, you'll be surprised how much less garbage you create. If you don't have that much garbage to begin with, you might be able to get rid of your garbage service altogether or if you live in an area where this is an option, get a smaller and cheaper refuse container. You'll also have thriving plants without having to go to Home Depot to buy compost. Payback in less than 12 months, 1 month if you can get rid of garbage service.
Cons: Fruits often have the larvae of fruit flies. Some people complain that the compost pail becomes a home for fruit flies.
Accutire Standard Digital Tire Gauge
It's amzaing how many people pay little attention to their tires. We cruise at 65 MPH down the highway with a mere inch of rubber between us and the road and it never occurs to most of us to check the tire pressure. If you took one of these devices and walked around any random parking lot, you'll be shocked at the percentage of tires that are under-inflated. Low pressure tires decrease gas mileage and the tire's lifespan. Not only do you end up burning more fossil fuels to reach your destination, some factory somewhere will burn more fuel to manufacture the additional tires. Buy one of these devices for each of your cars and put it right where you'll be reminded of it and check your tire pressure every few weeks. These gauges are cheap, so buy a pair. If you normally let the pressure in your tires go, these will pay for themselves in a few months, and more importantly will improve your vehicle safety. They make for great gifts that help keep your loved ones safe.
Cons: Sometimes hard to get a reading and it does take some effort and discipline. Batteries are not easily replaceable which means that some will just throw them away at this price point.
MAXSA Innovations Solar Motion-Activated Security Floodlight
Solar powered lighting can be pretty weak. With cheap yard lighting going for as little as $3 each, very little effort or expense goes into setting them up. If you have a motion activated floodlight, you can get a great solar light that will provide additional security or just cheaper lighting if the kids are playing ball in the driveway. Better quality comes with a price and this will set you back more than the other items in our list. But with the added feature of motion detection, you'll make sure that the light only gets used when it needs to be on. It would take a while for payback of this light but the added security feature has value beyond the energy efficiency.
Cons: Price. The best solar lighting comes with a price tag of more than $70. Do it for your mother. Mother Nature that is.
Living green is not only the decent thing to do - it can be great for your pocketbook.
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