Are you scrambling to find a holiday gift for everyone on your list? One way to help friends and family save money all year-round—while helping to protect the planet—is to choose gifts that don’t waste energy.
As you’re doing your shopping, look for the most energy efficient options. That will save your loved ones money on their energy bills and help reduce their carbon footprint. When our appliances and equipment consume less energy, that also reduces the need to use fossil fuels to generate that energy, avoiding the associated climate-warming emissions.
Here are some great energy efficient gift possibilities:
Light up the Season
LED light strings: First, give your family the gift of efficient holiday lighting! Whether inside twinkling on a tree or outside lighting up the yard, there’s nothing that says the holiday season more than a string of lights. Look for LEDs because an ENERGY STAR®-certified light string uses 75 percent less energy than an old-fashioned incandescent light string. LEDs also are cool to the touch, which reduces the risk of fire.
LED light bulbs: Another bright gift idea is LED light bulbs, which use four times less energy than incandescent bulbs. Since the average home has 40 light sockets, even gifting a few LED bulbs will go a long way toward making the recipient’s home more energy efficient. You truly would be giving the gift of savings since a single LED bulb can save consumers $50 to $150 in electricity costs before burning out. LEDs also last 10 to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs so they could be a gift that lasts for years while eliminating the need for annual replacement.
Tinsel and Tech
Streaming Devices: If the people you’re shopping for don’t already have a smart TV with streaming apps on it, consider buying them a streaming device like an Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast, or a Roku box. It can help eradicate the huge energy drain from using a video game console to binge watch television. In fact, video game consoles use as much as 30 times the amount of energy as a smart TV or small add-on devices.
ENERGY STAR Appliances: When gift shopping for appliances—from dishwashers to dehumidifiers—look for the ENERGY STAR label, which is only found on the more energy efficient versions of the product. Appliances and equipment with the ENERGY STAR label are in the range of 25 percent more efficient than those that just meet the minimum standard, which means big savings for consumers. In 2017 alone, ENERGY STAR products saved Americans $18 billion in energy costs.
Smart Thermostat: A smart thermostat that connects to Wi-Fi and automatically adjusts the heating and cooling in your home, or lets you control it remotely from a smartphone, can be a great gift. The average U.S. household spends more than $900 a year on heating and cooling alone, which makes a smart thermostat a brilliant gift that will help your loved ones keep more money in their pockets. If every household in America used an ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostat, it would eliminate 13 billion pounds of climate warming greenhouse gas emissions each year—the equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.2 million vehicles.
Blankets or Sweaters: For a more traditional gift, you could purchase a warm blanket or a thick sweater so your gift recipients can lower the temperature on their thermostat by a few degrees, decreasing the amount of heat they need to stay snug and comfortable at home.
Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators: To go hand-in-hand with the shampoos and shower gels they will be unwrapping, you could gift your friends a low-flow showerhead with a shut-off valve. That means that during every shower they’ll be saving water and the energy needed to heat it. You also could get them faucet aerators for all their sinks. Although an aerator may not seem like the flashiest device, they can decrease water consumption by 50 percent, and again, also the energy used to heat that water.
In lieu of buying another gift card, why not sign friends and family up for an energy audit? Some utility companies offer free energy audits, where a professional will assess a home and make suggestions for efficiency improvements.
A gift to help make them nice and cozy could be weather-stripping or plastic window film. Since up to a third of a home’s heat loss in winter could be slipping out through windows and doors, sealing those spots would put a lot of money back in the recipient’s wallet this winter. The heat lost through the holes and gaps in a typical house can add up to the equivalent of keeping one window open around-the-clock!
Here are three other miscellaneous efficiency-boosting gadgets you could gift:
- Kill-a-Watt meters are low cost and can measure how much energy each of the devices in a home is consuming—even when they’re not in active use. For example, a “switched off" DVR set-top box could be drawing around 20 watts of power even though it’s not being used for watching or recording a show.
- A smart power strip is a perfect gift because it can sense when an appliance, like a TV, is turned off and switch off all related devices. These power strips are also convenient because they let you switch off all plugged-in appliances at the same time with one easy flip of a switch.
- If your gift recipient is the forgetful type, a timer can be a great choice as it turns off devices that only need to be on at specific times—without having to remember each time. Timers help manage idle loads, which occurs when appliances are in “standby” or “sleep” mode but still drawing power. Idle load accounts for 23 percent of power consumption in the average household and about $165 in energy costs per year.
If none of these gift ideas are appealing, consider donating to an environmentally friendly organization in someone’s name. Gifting a charitable donation to a group dedicated to cutting energy waste, raising awareness about environmental issues, and working to combat the climate crisis is another great way to show people that you care about their future this holiday season.