I’m constantly on the look out for products that will make life easier and save money. The following list of products not only makes life easier and can save you money, but they can also help the environment. I remember seeing a Wal-Mart video that mentions if everyone bought and used one energy-saving light bulb, there would be a huge reduction in energy use. One small change if made by enough people can make a huge difference.
1. Motion Activated Wall switch. I’m a big fan of motion activated sensors. I use them anyplace that we use light in short bursts and then forget to turn them off; in our garage; in our pantry; in our walk-in closet. I’ve been tempted to put them in the bathroom but it’s harder to gauge how long to set the shut-off timer. I’m so used to walking into these places and just having the lights turn on automatically that when I go to someone else’s house I think there’s something wrong when the light doesn’t turn on. You can set the lights to go on anywhere from a few seconds to several hours, depending on the switch. I don’t necessarily have a favorite brand. As far as I know, they all perform about the same. If anyone’s had a particularly good or bad experience with a brand or model, please leave your thoughts in the comments.
- Cooper Wiring Devices motion sensor wall switch - This is the one I use.
- Here are some other brands of motion sensor wall switches.
- There is also a version made by First Alert you can plug directly into a light bulb socket that would be great for a garage or basement.
2. Motion Activated Electrical Outlet. I’ve never used one of these but, as you know, I’m a big fan of motion sensors. I would use this for lamps, fans, heaters, radios, or even power strips connected to electronics.
3. Motion-activated flood lights. Yes, another motion-activated product. We use these around the outside of our house; one on each side and two sets in the back. Not only are they great for conserving energy, they are also incredibly effective for burglary prevention. You couldn’t break into our house on any side without being in the spotlight.
4. Kill A Watt energy tracker. This device shows you how much energy other electronic devices use in kilowatt-hours. It can also monitor voltage, line frequency and power factors. I’m a little nervous getting one of these because I would spend too much time testing all our appliances. But that’s a good thing, right? By finding energy-guzzling appliances you can be more aware to use them conservatively or turn them off when not in use. A couple of common energy leaks are leaving electronics plugged in even when they’re not in use and leaving your computer turned on at night.
5. Renu-it battery charger. I go through a lot of batteries. My three-year-old boy loves trucks that make noises and take 4 C batteries. Add to that my extensive use of portable electronics and I go through batteries like crazy - AAs, AAAs, and Cs, you name it. I’ve used rechargeable batteries before but the cost of them is high and they wear out over time. The other problem is that batteries tend to disappear around my house and I don’t want expensive rechargeable batteries walking off.
Enter the Renu-it battery charger. It charges regular alkaline, titanium, and rechargeable batteries safely. It has built-in mechanisms to prevent overcharging, overheating, and short-circuits. I’ve never used this product but I love the idea. This is definitely on my shopping list.
6. Valve cap pressure indicators. Not all the products on this list are for electronic devices. These clever units replace the existing valve caps on your car tires and constantly show the tire’s pressure making it easy to know when to add a little air. According to the EPA, you can improve your car’s gas mileage by more than 3 percent simply by keeping its tires inflated to the proper pressure. In addition, keeping tires inflated properly can extend the life of your tires so you’re saving money in more than one way. Keeping your tires properly inflated is also safer since under-inflated tires are less responsive, particularly in the rain and snow. One word of warning: a few Amazon reviews indicated that some defective valve caps may cause the tires to leak slowly.
- Analog Tire Pressure Valve Caps.
- Electronic tire pressure valve caps that blink when your tires are low.
7. MagLite LED bulb-replacement kits. It’s now common knowledge that LED lights use a small portion of the energy of regular incandescent lights and last way longer. LED lights are increasingly common in flashlights, electronics, and are even available as replacements for household light bulbs. These clever kits allow you to replace the bulb in a Maglite flashlight with an LED or luxeon light bulb. Most people I know have a number of old Maglites lying around. Now they can be updated and brought into the 21st century at about half the price of a new Maglite.
- Conversion kit for AA Mini Maglites.
- Conversion kit for C and D cell Maglites.
- Conversion kit for 3C and 3D Maglites
8. Energy-saving light bulbs (LED or florescent). According to one Fast Company article compact fluorescent light bulbs emit the same light as classic incandescents but use 75% or 80% less electricity. Florescent bulbs are now commonly sold at major retailers. Another benefit is that the bulbs are supposed to last much longer, even for several years. Over the lifetime of the bulb you will easily save more money than you paid for the bulb.
We use florescent bulbs in several places in our house. I must admit I don’t like the light they produce as much as incandescent bulbs, but the right color lamp shade can remedy that for the most part. Less common (and much more expensive) are LED household light bulbs. There are currently LED bulbs available on the market but they are still too high priced for most consumers. I’m anxious to see what kind of light LED bulbs produce in a household light.
- Here are a variety of fluorescent blubs including regular sized bulbs and floodlights.
- Here are a couple of LED lights including a small version and a floodlight version. They didn’t get very good reviews and are quite expensive. It looks like LED technology isn’t quite ready to invade household lighting.
- This is an excellent Fast Company article outlining the benefits of CFL bulbs and how Wal-Mart has led a campaign to get consumers to start converting to CFLs. Well worth a read.
Do you know of any other energy-saving or money-saving products? Leave them in the comments below!
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