Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

gadgets to help you go green

Going green can be made much easier with the assistance of electronic gadgets, whether they help you go paperless, save you energy, or save you money.

Before sharing a few cool devices, let's start with the one that everyone has: your phone. Smartphones can do just about anything now, which means they can easily help you go green. I've recently been transferring to a more cloud-based system, allowing me to access files from my computers or my phone. I'm testing out a task management app for this blog, and it allows me to stay on top of things from my computers, phone, and even any browser - without the use of paper or a combination of five other tools.

There are other simple ways to make your phone help you be greener. List and notetaking apps come in handy for just about anything. Instead of sticky notes, use these apps. There are dedicated grocery list apps, some of which allow for syncing between family members, that help you cut down on paper -- and the threat of forgetting the list at home. There's also a benefit of being able to update your grocery list at any time, not just when you're at home next to the fridge. Being able to update/access your information from different devices is a huge bonus from having to make copies of the same item to keep in different places.

Yahoo recently featured a few green gadgets as options to help you save energy and money:

  • Sunforce Solar Fan with Light - The fan looks like a larger kind that would function well on a patio or elsewhere in the yard, making this a useful green option.
  • American Standard Multi-Functional Shower Head with FloWise Turbine Technology - I have always been interested in switching to a low-flow shower head, but didn't have the ability to do so in my apartment, and the idea of less water pressure is not appealing to everyone. This shower head claims to not compromise performance, however. 
  • myFC PowerTrekk Fuel Cell Charger - This charger claims to be able to power your cell phone with only a few sips from your (reusable) water bottle. I am skeptical of most green phone chargers, because I have a 100% failure rate with the ones I've tried. Many cannot draw enough power to charge a smartphone. But an old Motorola flip it can probably handle!
  • Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac - Typically, items like this I find are victims of greenwashing. A wireless solar keyboard certainly SOUNDS green, until you think of the logistics. If it has to be solar powered, it has to be near sunlight. How many people would want to leave their keyboards outside just to power up? How many workers don't even have a window in their office? Logitech took that into consideration and made their solar keyboard able to be charged by any light source, including desk lamps. Smart!
  • Belkin WeMo Home Automation Switch + Motion Sensor Bundle - The WeMo is a great invention. We have a standard WeMo outlet that powers a lamp in the house, and would have the motion sensor upgrade if we didn't have two feline children running around all the time. What I like about the WeMo is its wireless connectivity. "In an OUTLET?" you might ask. Yes, and it allows you to control anything plugged into the outlet via your smartphone. Forgot to turn off that lamp before going to work? Don't worry about leaving it on for hours; turn it off from your desk! You can also set schedules so items turn on and off at your chosen intervals, making it a great home security addition.
  • EcoSmart Electric Tankless Water Heater - Shockingly, I have zero experience dealing with water heaters. Not exactly sure how this one works compared to a standard heater.
  • Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor - These monitors seem like a great way to test how well you're doing in regards to wasted electricity. But, if you're interested, check around your city and see if there's not another way to acquire one of these. For example, Lafayette Utilities System worked out a partnership with the Lafayette Public Library locations that provides a bunch of these monitors to be checked out. Extra green!
  • WIBO Thermoquick 160 Gallon Composter - I'm not highly educated on composters, but this is one I would look at once I start a garden in the backyard and have a need for compost!
  • Honeywell MyEnergySmart Infared Whole Room Heater - Space heaters are not typically the most energy efficient appliances, but this one claims to have EnergySmart technology so it draws less power, and it has an energy usage indicator. But for any space heaters you use, use them smartly so you don't run your electricity bill up or burn your house down. Only use them in rooms where you are; don't run them for too long at a time or too close to furniture; don't plug them into extension cords; and especially don't leave them running overnight. 
What are your favorite green gadgets?


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