For a long time “going green” had a bad rep. Trying to live more sustainably was seen as unconventional, alternative and quite frankly not a priority for most people. Fast-forward to today and going green has shed its hippy image. Out went the mung beans and tie-dyed fabrics and in came cutting-edge green technology.
With the average US home racking up a monthly electricity bill of $114.03, spending a little in advance to cut these costs dramatically over time seems like a wise investment. Not to mention the environmental costs of our reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source.
Today’s consumer doesn’t have to choose between style and substance as tech manufacturers have realized we want both. The range of eco-conscious gadgets and technology on offer is bigger than ever, from smart appliances which use less energy to apps which allow you control your heating when you’re not around, there’s something for everyone.
Let’s take a look at some ways we can bring green technology into our homes.
1. Nest Learning Thermostat
Until we saw Nest we didn’t know thermostats could be sexy. Although the company founders are both ex-Apple executives so maybe it’s no surprise that the design is sleek, modern and light years away from the clunky plastic thermostats found in most homes.
The clever thing about Nest is that it remembers how warm you like your home and programs itself based on your lifestyle and schedule. It adjusts to weather reports so you don’t need to reprogram as the seasons change and it even knows if you’re not home and will drop the temperature to save energy. If you’re out and about you can switch on the heating via the app so your house is cosy on your return.
Based on typical energy costs, the estimated savings are $131 to $145 per year, meaning it pays for itself in less than two years. According to the company website the Nest Learning Thermostat has saved over 8 billion kWh of energy since 2011. That’s one big electricity bill!
2. Notas 2.200 mAh Solar Charger
Using less electricity is great, but how about going off-grid completely? There’s lots of solar chargers on the market so you’re sure to find one which suits you, but we like this Notas solar charger just to show that energy saving can be both simple and stylish.
Stick the sleekly designed unit to a window and charge your smartphone using only the sun’s rays – no dollars added to your electricity bill here! As an added bonus, the unit is also small and light enough to be portable and therefore used as a backup charger while you’re away from home. Use it in the car, stick it in a train window or simply place it in the sun when you’re enjoying the great outdoors.
3. Caia, the Natural Lighting Robot
Smart appliances and increasingly efficient technology are great at helping us reduce the amount of energy we use around the home. However, the most drastic reduction comes when we switch things off completely (well, duh.) Why should we use artificial lighting during the day when the sun is shining outside? Our natural lighting robot, Caia, gives you the power to turn off artificial lights and enjoy natural sunlight inside your home.
Place Caia in a sunny spot inside or out, and she’ll redirect that sunlight into your home. She can illuminate 500ft2 and she’s as bright as 13 lightbulbs – think of the energy savings! Solar powered and wire free, Caia needs no installation and will work right out the box. Simply point her where you want the sunlight to go and you’re all ready to enjoy your space transformed by sunlight!
Are you ready to bring natural sunlight into your home? Find out more here.
4. Philips Hue Lighting
Traditional incandescent bulbs are incredibly inefficient, converting less than 5% of the energy used into light. The other 95% is lost as heat so it’s no surprise these outdated bulbs are being phased out. If you’ve got some in your home right now, do yourself a favour and upgrade to energy saving light bulbs, or better still LEDs.
LED lamps use around 75% less energy so you can make substantial savings on your electricity bill. Whilst each bulb does cost a little more, they last between 35-50 times longer than incandescent so you’ll find yourself balancing on ladders replacing hard to reach broken bulbs much less.
What’s more, add some smart technology to the mix and you can really have some fun. With the Philips Hue Starter Kit you can change the color of your lighting and create personalized moods for your home, even syncing the lights to music or movies. Connect the bulbs to the hub and you can control the lighting via an app on your phone or by voice control with Siri or a smart home hub like Google Home. If you’re technically minded, the potential to connect with different apps will really get you excited – automatically set the lights to a cool blue if the temperature drops too low, start color cycling if your sports team scores or even flash red if your fire alarm detects smoke.
5. Smart Power Strips
So, smart power strips aren’t the flashiest way to save energy around the home. They look like normal power adapters but they do an important job and also bring us to our favorite term in the electricity business; ‘vampire power’! All those red dots glowing back at you while you sleep? Vampires sucking up your electricity! Get a smart power strip and it’ll automatically switch off electronics that are on standby but not in use.
There are lots of smart power strips on the market right now to help you switch off and save. There are also lots of surge protectors on the market that protect your electronics from damage if there is an external power spike. However, only some devices, like the Smart Strip Power Strip, do both. Shop carefully!
Another way to upgrade your plug sockets is by turning them into smart devices which can connect to your mobile. We like the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch which can be controlled via your smartphone or tablet. Use the app to monitor electricity usage, turn individual sockets on and off, and set schedules and timers. Whilst it’s useful to be able to control your devices from anywhere, the WeMo Insight Switch still relies on the user to check the app and switch off as needed. It won’t turn off appliances on standby (remember our old friend vampire power?) unless you tell it to. That said the app itself is both user friendly and pleasingly geeky – if you’re anything like us, being able to see how much it’s costing you to use the clothes dryer is enough incentive to switch it off and hang your clothes outside.