The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is this year and, by now, most of us know about the big eco tech buys that would reduce our carbon footprint in a big way–installing a solar hot water/electric system at home, for example, or planting a wind turbine in the backyard. And of course, there are those stand-outs in the ever-growing list of spanky new green cars so many of us already know and covet. But if those kind of high-dollar items don’t fit your recession-era budget just yet, don’t despair. Rather, consider these lesser-known ways you can use green tech to shrink your carbon footprint this year. (And hey, if you need an excuse to make a purchase, think of it as your Earth Day present to yourself.)
1. Install a Home Energy Monitor
According to the Sierra Club, our homes are responsible for a whopping 21% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Increasingly, consumers want more control over how much energy their homes are using, and suddenly it seems like everyone–including major players like Google and Apple–is looking for ways to deliver “smart home” capabilities to every home.
Until we’re able to connect directly to the mainframe in large numbers, however, some workable solutions exist. One of our favorites is the PowerCost Monitor from Blue Line Innovations. Featuring a counter-top display that looks like an alarm clock, this little gizmo will give you a handle on not just your electricity usage at home–moment to moment as well as month to month–but how much it’s costing you. That, coupled with the real time display, offers a pretty good picture of how much it really costs to run your hair-dryer every morning, for example, or power your TV at night. The PowerCost Monitor typically helps customers reduce electricity bills by 6-18% annually–enough to pay for itself in six months to a year. It goes for $99.99 from Fry’s Electronics.