Give the gift of energy savings…with upgraded electronics


Tis the season to make our lists and check them twice. For family and friends on the nice list, consider helping them save money on monthly energy bills. Beyond some of the more traditional energy efficiency measures, such as sealing air leaks or adding additional insulation, there are several popular electronics gift ideas that can help use energy more efficiently.

These devices are relatively easy to incorporate into a home, making them a great gift idea and simple way to help manage energy use.

Smart thermostats are becoming an increasingly popular option to help save energy at home. With smart thermostats, there’s no longer a need to constantly adjust the temperature, making this a convenient option for energy savings. Photo courtesy of Ecobee

They can be programmed to follow a pattern of heating and cooling throughout the day and year to maximize comfort and energy use. Some advanced smart thermostats can even learn user habits and adjust the temperature accordingly. Another great benefit is the ability to control a smart thermostat remotely from an app on a smartphone, allowing users to set the temperature to their liking before they even arrive home. Lastly, some smart thermostats can be integrated with a smart home hub, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Smart thermostats can be pricey upfront, but if it is time to upgrade a thermostat, smart options offer more convenience and savings that make them worth the initial investment.

If you are looking for ways to save energy on a budget, consider smart plugs. Smart plugs can be inserted into any standard electrical outlet and can help you manage the energy of the devices that are plugged in. With control of the smart plug, you can stop power-hungry devices from being on longer than necessary. Some smart plug models have a scheduling option, allowing you to turn on lights or turn off the TV at certain times of the day. Others offer a dimming function, allowing you to change the brightness of lights plugged into the smart plug. These features can be controlled through an app on your phone, and some models also have voice-controlled options when connected to a smart home hub.

Another useful gadget is the home energy monitor, which helps you monitor home energy use and set energy budgets. If your goal is to reduce your energy use at home, energy monitors can give you the information you need to achieve this goal. They are connected to your electric meter and provide a big-picture look at your home energy use. Additionally, some home energy monitors can show which appliances are using the most energy, helping you decide which appliances to shut down.

There are also a few additional features among home energy monitors that provide several different benefits. Some models can show you real-time electricity use and costs, while some can help create a personalized plan for energy efficiency. Most home energy monitors can be connected through a smart phone app, which can send notifications, warn about abnormal energy use, and provide tips for further energy savings.

These devices can help those on your nice list save a little more energy each month. Considering what their needs are will help you choose a device with the appropriate features. As with any new product, do some homework first to determine which device suits their home best.

Maria Kanevsky is a program analyst for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.