Go Green With Our Energy-Efficient Finds
Good for the earth and your bottom line.
Landscape irrigation and other outdoor watering costs the U.S. nearly 9 billion gallons of water each day, and experts say plenty of those droplets are due to overwatering. Watering too much, too often isn’t good for your lawn or your monthly bill.
Drip, trickle, and low-flow sprinkler systems save energy while still providing plenty of irrigation for lawns and gardens. The Department of Energy suggests adjusting your irrigation controller once a month or more often, depending on the weather. Or better yet, install a smart controller that has an automatic shut-off device and can monitor moist soil, humidity, and rainfall. Our Water Sense-certified Rachio Wi-Fi Smart Sprinkler Controller continuously adapts to local weather forecasts and changing seasons, optimizing schedules and customizing routines for specific yard details and conditions.
Remember to water your lawn before 10 am or after 6 pm when possible to prevent evaporation, and adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A trimmed but taller lawn provides shade to grass roots and retains moisture in healthy soil better than a close-cropped yard.
The second biggest water consumer in our home is something most of us can’t do without: a washing machine. Americans wash more than 660 million loads of laundry each week, and wash half of those loads in hot or warm water. That’s about 1,000 loads of laundry every second, every day. No wonder it’s so hard to put all those clean clothes away.
If you purchased a washing machine before 1999, consider treating yourself to a new model. Energy Star models built after 2000 are 4 times more energy efficient and typically use less water per wash.
The pureWash Pro is a small, green appliance that attaches to the wall behind your existing washing machine. It removes 99% of bacteria and mold by disinfecting with oxygen rather than detergent. The device oxygenates cold tap water before it goes into the washing machine, so no hot water or detergent is required for clean, fluffy clothes (although independent tests have found spot remover may be needed for serious stains).
The manufacturer’s claim that the device pays for itself in one year is more accurate for families who do several large loads of laundry each week compared with tidy singles.
If you’re famous for forgetting to turn off a curling iron or coffeepot, put your mind at ease and invest in a smart plug that you can turn off remotely from your phone, even if no one is home. These simple devices plug into any standard outlet, connect directly with your home’s Wi-Fi, and turn ordinary appliances into smart devices that you can turn off with a super quick swipe. Our TP Link Wi-Fi Plug with Energy Monitoring combines the simplicity of a smart plug with the accountability of an accountability tracker that shows you how much energy your devices consume when they’re in use.
If adding a command to turn off appliances adds stress to your morning routine, try a socket or power strip that has a built in timer to be sure appliances power down at the moment you choose, or choose devices with auto-shut off features to save worry and energy. The Belkin Conserve Socket shuts off automatically at 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours, and many surge suppressors have similar timers or dawn-to-dusk settings.
Adding smart plugs and shut-off options to your electronics can save you more than $100 a year in energy costs.
Talk to Me
Smart plugs work beautifully with digital assistants. A video and voice-enabled model, like the Amazon Echo Show, can show the day’s weather and forecast, but it also connects all of your energy-efficient devices, so you can create skills that let you give a single voice command to turn them all off rather than cycling through each gadget’s app on your tablet or phone. The small, simple Google Home Mini can connect with dozens of digital devices throughout your home and shut off gadgets when their time is up or they’re not being used. New thermostats and other home devices are being built with Alexa, Cortana, and Google Home built right in, for a seamless, streaming smart home.
Take the time to set up skills with Alexa or to check in with your Google Home app to be sure you have the latest, greatest updates for all your smart home devices.
Don’t Forget Pets
Be sure to put your pet’s food in environmentally safe containers and sign up for tweets from the American Medical Veterinary Association Recall Watch that alert you immediately if any pet foods or favorite toys are at risk of being recalled.
The Gosh! EasyFeed Automatic Pet Feeder and easyFeed mobile app combine control when and how much food and water your pet receives, and let you check up on your furry friends with its built-in webcam. Save time and a trip by skipping the store. Sign up with the Gosh! service that will automatically deliver your pet food when the feeder is running low.
Add the pet-friendly PetKit Eversweet Smart Waterer, a water fountain system that filters out harmful pollutants, turns off when not in use, and flashes its LED blue light when the filter needs to be changed or when water is running low.
Be sure to keep smart plugs and surge suppressors away from pets with a penchant for chew toys.
Take a Break
Once Fido has been fed, take a break in the kitchen and give your oven and dishwasher a rest, too. A countertop cooker like the NuWave Pro Plus Oven uses conduction heat, convection heat, and infrared heat to bake, broil, and air-fry all in one small appliance that cooks faster and uses far less energy than a standard size oven.
The NuWave Pressure Cooker uses much less energy than a cooking range and keeps your dinner piping hot in a single appliance you can hand wash. This slow-cooker/steamer/pressure cooker combo provides a tremendous array of cooking possibilities, all in a single, worry-free appliance. Its set-ahead time and temperature settings ensure your cooker turns on and off at precisely the right time.
If you prefer to cook a quick, healthy meal but still want to reduce your energy in the kitchen, try an induction burner and non-stick pan. The NuWave Precision Induction Cooker. Take your tech to the next level with a smart pan and induction burner from Hestan Cue. This lovely luxury comes with instant access to recipes and instructions from classically trained chefs who break down dinner recipes into simple steps anyone can follow from their smart phone.