How to Make Your Home Energy Smart

Mary Butler

In early 2008, power utility Xcel Energy began constructing its first city-scale "smart grid" in Boulder, Colorado. Part of a $100-million initiative, the technology should allow people to monitor and control power usage--and better yet, provide utilities with the information needed to supply energy more efficiently.

Green Gadgets: Smart and Energy Efficient

While it might be some time until most people in the U.S. have access to smart grid technology, there are several other ways to gauge home energy use. As you work to reduce your carbon footprint, consider these green gadgets designed to make it easy for you:

  • Consumption aware light switches. When you switch the light on or off, the light switch produces a flashing light, which varies in intensity depending on your home's level of energy consumption. A brighter flash equals more consumption.
  • Home energy cost monitors. These monitors have LCD screens that regularly update to tell you exactly how much electricity your appliances and lights are using. You can personalize the monitor with your cost to kilowatt rate, taking the surprise out of each month's electricity bill.
  • Universal solar chargers. Why plug in your iPod or cell phone when you can use a portable solar charger? These universal chargers come with suction cups allowing the charger to be attached to your car's windshield, where it can soak up the sun's rays and store enough energy to recharge your phone up to two times. You may also want to consider a solar charging laptop bag for your computer.
  • Smart power strips. All those secondary items--your printer, monitor, and scanner, for example--plugged into your computer power strip continue to suck energy after you've turned them off. But this energy-smart power strip detects the flow of electrical current through the strip's control outlet--and stops the flow of electricity when the components are not in use.

While it's clear technological advancements should make saving energy easier in the years to come, there's no reason not to do what you can now. These are just a few of the ways you can take charge of your energy use and make a difference in the fight to reduce energy consumption.

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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