For many people, being eco-friendly means powering down and pulling the plug. After all, our modern tech world notoriously consumes massive amounts of water and resources to power and cool its digital infrastructure. (Never mind the toxic materials mined to produce our devices.) But hi-tech also has an upside — reducing energy consumption while nudging the planet toward a more sustainable future. How so? Consider adding any of these gadgets to your home.
Carbonated water makers
Depressing thought: More than eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. And that’s just an estimate. Happier thought: You can rid yourself of the single-use plastic water bottle by investing in a sparkling water maker. They are relatively affordable — you can find a decent one for a few hundred dollars — and they dramatically reduce your plastic waste. If you want to go an extra step, you can purchase a water maker from a company that recycles its carbonating cylinders.
Home sensors aren’t just for security. They can make your home more environmentally conscious, too. For example, a smart leak sensor can monitor leaking points throughout your home. Good thing, too: it’s estimated everyday household leaks add up to almost one trillion gallons of water wasted each year.
You’ve probably heard of the energy vampires among us — those devices that draw power even when they are off. Phone chargers, cable boxes, and coffee pots — all energy-sucking ghouls. And we don’t say “ghoul” lightly — it’s believed these devices may be consuming more than a quarter of the average monthly electricity bill. A “smart plug” lets you remotely control your appliances’ appetites. Some even provide real-time reporting on what devices are devouring the most electricity.
If you feel your home is due for an upgrade, why not start with the washer and dryer? New energy-efficient models can cut water usage dramatically — sometimes by as much as 400 fewer gallons per load. You might also consider replacing your fridge in the kitchen, as new models can cut energy use in half.
Too warm, too cold — or just right? With a smart thermostat, there’s no need to wonder. And by exercising control over your home’s heating and cooling system, you’ll save money on your electric bill while reducing your carbon footprint. There are also cool perks, such as using WiFi to adjust your home temperature from anywhere. Smart technology is also intuitive, tracking when you are home — and even what the weather is — and manipulating the temperature accordingly.
Forget making sure there’s a socket nearby. Whether roughing it in the great outdoors or chilling on a star-filled night in your backyard, you’ll never need to worry about being left in the dark. Or without an internet connection. A solar lighting system can also charge your phone if you don’t want to go entirely unplugged.
You can also easily make eco-friendly improvements to the lighting inside your house. Smart LED bulbs drain less power and last thousands of hours longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, meaning you won’t have to replace them nearly as often.
Toilets use more water than anything else — and the older they are, the more water they flush. Installing a new toilet — preferably a dual flush model — will dramatically reduce water usage.
Evaporative air coolers
If you’re looking to give your AC — and your wallet — a break, these coolers evaporate water in a tank and funnel it through a fan. How refrigerated a room becomes will depend a lot on where the machine goes — ventilation is key to moving the cool air — but if you want to avoid scorching power bills during the hot summer months, this might be the air-conditioning alternative for you.
The production of laptops, which involves numerous rare materials, is notoriously bad for the environment. Yet no one can go without one — especially in our post-pandemic remote-work world. So, what’s an eco-conscious consumer to do? Consider purchasing a secondhand laptop or a refurbished model (since at least that machine already exists and you aren’t supporting the production pipeline). You can also buy a TCO Certified laptop, meaning it has received a sustainability certification for IT products. As for the laptop case, look for one produced from recycled materials.