If you're a gadget geek or a handyman (or woman) around the house, conserving resources like electricity, water, and heat can be fun, thanks to some cool tools that help you save. From high-tech to low-tech, these products will make your home more energy- and resource-efficient — or in some cases, tell you how to make your home more energy-efficient — and in turn, will help you save on your utility bills, too.
ElectricityCut down on your electricity usage with these tools. Some tools tell you what you're using, and some are simply smart changes or additions to your home.
- Power Monitor: Calculate electricity consumption on household appliances and find out which of your plug-ins are energy vampires. Some models allow you to program in your utility rate so you can calculate energy bills, or have timers to automatically turn off appliances.
- Smart Power Strip: A smart power strip will automatically shut down your peripherals when you shut down your computer to avoid unnecessary energy usage, and also function as surge protectors. Besides computers, they can be used to turn on and off multiple related electronics in a room, such as a home theatre system, or lights, power tools, and dust collectors in a home workshop.
- Portable Solar Charger: Harness the (free) energy of the sun to charge your mobile phone, mp3 player, and other portable electronics. Many solar chargers work with a wide range of devices, hold their charge for months or even years, and can also be charged with an electrical outlet or a USB port.
WaterYes, you could take shorter showers and turn the faucet off when you're brushing your teeth. But these gadgets make water saving more fun!
- Water-saving Showerhead: The next generation of low-flower showerheads will detect when the water is hot enough to get into the shower, then "pause" the flow until you can get in. A family of three can save more than 7,600 gallons a year.
- Dual Flush Conversion Kit: While dual flush toilets are expensive and complicated to install, a dual flush conversion kit can turn any toilet into a dual flush toilet, saving up to 68% of wasted water. Once installed, the handle allows you to choose to flush with less water for liquid waste — much more tasteful than "letting it mellow".
- Collapsible Rain Barrel: A space-saving rain barrel lets you collect water from gutters or other runoff, then stores compactly when not in use.
HeatThere are more creative ways of conserving heat in the wintertime than turning down the thermostat and putting on a sweater.
- Adjustable Thermostat: The smartest new themostats are easier and more versatile to program, have portable sensors to check the temperature throughout the house, and can even be controlled via a smartphone app.
- Thermal Heat Detector: Find out just how drafty your house is with a handheld tool with which you can scan windows, doors, fireplaces, vents, and other areas where heat may be escaping or cold may be entering.
- Door Draft Guards: Once you've found all those drafts with your high-tech heat detector, use a low-tech, but clever way to plug them up — a double door draft guard fits under the base of your door and plugs it on both sides without having to constantly move it when you want to open the door.
What are your favorite energy-conserving tools and gadgets? Share your suggestions in the comments below.