Gifts of efficiency

Energy-smart presents give all year long
By Kelly Trapnell
Gifts of efficiency

If you are wondering what to buy for your loved ones this holiday season, consider giving the gift of efficiency.

Green giving is thoughtful on many levels. It's good for the environment, and the person receiving the gift has a new gadget to use that will keep his or her long-term electric costs lower year-round. It's a gift everyone can feel good about.

"Choosing a green gift can be easy," says Brian Sloboda, senior program manager for the Cooperative Research Network (CRN). "Be aware of energy use. Look for any mention of energy ratings on large appliances and televisions, or select unplugged gifts. Think solar, reusable, and recyclable. Even something as small as the packaging and wrapping can make a difference."

Look for items with lightweight packaging. And think about wrapping your gift in something like a fabric bag that can be reused or even an accessory like a scarf to tie things up.

Green gift ideas

For decorators: LED Christmas lights ($15–$35). These energy-efficient lights are becoming easier to find. They save on holiday electric bills and stay cool to the touch. For a festive complete package, wrap in a decorative stocking.

For gardeners: Solar garden lights ($15–$50). Available in many colors, styles and sizes, solar garden lights can be a lovely addition to your favorite green thumb's garden. To up the green quotient, wrap them in a burlap bag.

For cooks: Toaster oven ($60–$140). Especially great for the empty nester or those only cooking for one or two, toaster ovens are a good choice to save energy as an alternative to heating a large standard oven.

For movie buffs or sports fans: Energy Star-rated TV (price based on size). Televisions are getting bigger and better. But before you give something that uses as much electricity as a refrigerator as some TVs do, look for the Energy Star label. It will offer the smallest impact on electric bills as possible.

For techies: Smart strip ($20–$40). This new cutting-edge technology is great for plugging in electronic gadgets. Not your average power strip, smart strips sport designated outlets that make it easy to power down certain devices to save energy while not affecting others plugged into the same strip.

For techies: Solar cell phone charger ($55–$100+). You can unplug energy-sucking chargers from the wall. Solar chargers can be placed in a window, in the car or anywhere the sun shines to charge a cell phone or other devices like a GPS unit or MP3 player.

About the Author

Kelly Trapnell writes on writes on safety and energy efficiency issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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