Are you the type who likes to have all the latest toys, or do you prefer letting those early adopters work out all the bugs for you? Either way, there’s no shame in buying a shiny new gadget to play around with. And doing so is downright rewarding when said gadget reduces your carbon footprint — and possibly saves you money in the process.
Originally designed for use in makeshift environments, including campsites and developing-world settlements without reliable electricity supplies, solar cookers are increasingly popular in mainstream American homes.
The concept here is simple: A solar cooker harnesses the sun’s energy to deliver enough heat to cook food as effectively as a stove or oven — and with far less wasted energy. Since they do need a steady source of sunlight, they’re ideal for outdoor kitchens in temperate climates, somewhat restricting their applicability for certain homeowners. Still, if you have a sunny yard and like cooking outdoors, you could save a lot of energy — and money — by investing in a solar cooker.
Pound for pound, solar panels have never been cheaper or more efficient. That’s why their use is exploding on residential and commercial rooftops across the United States. Although it is likely that state and federal tax credits for the purchase and installation of rooftop solar panels will eventually expire, there’s still time to take advantage. And even if you’re not ready to install until after the credits do expire, solar energy is now cost-competitive with — and, in some cases, cheaper than — power generated by oil- or coal-fired power plants.
Examples of smart thermostats abound. Each takes a slightly different approach to solving an age-old problem: how to make home heating and cooling systems more efficient. The best smart thermostats aren’t just programmable — they actually learn your heating and cooling preferences based on your behavior. That means they’re powerful allies in your campaign against high home energy bills.
Geothermal Water Heaters
Geothermal water heaters are head-slappingly simple. They harness and magnify the planet’s internal heat to warm your home’s water without using coal, oil or any other carbon-based power source. Unlike solar cookers, they can be used just about anywhere, regardless of the underlying geology — so you don’t have to be located in a volcanic field or hot spot to benefit.
One of the wondrous things about technology is that it never seems to want to stand still. As previous lists of cutting-edge sustainable gadgets indicate, nothing remains constant in this business for long. And there’s no doubt that, come next year or the year after, some of the sustainable gadgets on this list will be replaced by more efficient, powerful devices. So get ‘em while you can — and be sure to stay on top of whatever changes may come!