green week

The 5 Products I Use to Make My House More Energy Efficient

It’s no Jetsons house, but we’re getting there. Photo: Courtesy of Hanna-Barbera Productions

So you want to make your house more ecofriendly. Good for you — there are plenty of things to do that don’t involve replacing all of your appliances and putting solar panels on the roof. My wife and I have managed to reduce power consumption with just a few products (along with lifestyle changes like programming the thermostat to match our use and being conscious of water use).

To get some expert opinions on the affordable products I use to make my home more ecofriendly, I also spoke with Matt Daigle and Melissa Rappaport Schifman, the founder and editor, respectively, of Rise, an organization dedicated to sustainable home improvement. Follow their advice (and mine) to reduce power consumption and improve your home’s green quotient without making any major purchases.

You don’t actually need to spend much money upgrading to a smart thermostat to keep precise track of your home’s temperatures. This device is small enough to tuck anywhere and works with an app to give you real-time data about the house’s temperature and humidity levels, and it stores up to 32,000 past readings, so you can track conditions at all hours of the day. Sometimes I’ll even walk around the house with the pocket-size device to check for hot spots or drafts.

Earlier this year, I got a two-pack of AUKEY smart plugs, which I’d intended to schedule lights to turn on and off while my family and I went traveling, for security reasons. [Editor’s note: We’ve recommended similar smart plugs before.] Now we use it to save energy and money — we use it to turn off my son’s computer while he’s at school, or to turn off my wife’s glue gun and flat iron, which nobody wants to worry about when miles away from home. AUKEY plugs also work with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, if you want to efficiently yell at appliances, too.

We all know that LED light bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescents, but they’re often lacking in light quality, giving off that harsh glow with gas-station-bathroom charm. The Iotton smart bulb can shine in full-spectrum white light, softer yellow hues, and a whole spectrum of 16 million colors. It also uses 80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and is rated to last more than 30,000 hours (that’s three-and-a-half years of constant use). Daigle says: “For every 100-watt incandescent, the 15-watt LED equivalent [can] save you a total of $440 over the life span of that bulb … and, yes, that is for one single bulb.”

The U.S. Department of Energy considers any showerhead that delivers less than 2.5 gallons of water per minute as low flow, so the 1.75 GPM Delta In2ition H2Okinetic Shower Head certainly fits the bill, but the jets are still strong enough for rinsing the bubbles off of your hair and body. The center of the unit pops out to function as a handheld shower, too. It’s energy-efficient and spalike.

Did you know that windows are responsible for more than a quarter of the heating and cooling costs of most homes? It’s because of air leaks letting air in and out, but also because of the sunlight that passes through the glass in the summer to raise interior temperatures, even with ordinary curtains. When we replaced all of our windows a while back, they took care of the draft issues, but a lot of solar heat was still coming through the panes. The rather cheap and relatively easy solution was blackout curtains, which block infrared light, keeping rooms cooler, and also add a layer of insulation that prevents the loss of cool air in the summer and warm air in during the cold months. They’re not the sexiest option, but the AmazonBasics versions look good, are priced even better, and are a cinch to put up. I even installed them myself.

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The 5 Products I Use to Make My House More Energy Efficient