Saving energy at home through the use of energy saving devices doesn’t always require a grand gesture such as solar panels on the roof – the small changes are every bit as worthwhile. The devices suggested here are just the tip of the iceberg, so get on the internet and see what you can find!
The Sherpa wind-up torch by Freeplay is an ideal gadget for camping trips, or to keep around the home in case of a power cut. The wind-up system offers maximum dependability when dead batteries could leave you vulnerable. The handle folds out from the underside of this compact torch and can be wound clockwise and anticlockwise: a 30-second wind gives about eight minutes of light on normal beam and you can re-wind at any time.
There are two brightness settings, ultrabright and energy saving, allowing you to save battery power as necessary. The torch has an LED charge level indicator to tell you the optimum winding speed. With a fully charged battery (about 40 minutes winding), the torch will shine for five hours on normal beam and 30 minutes on high beam. The Sherpa is supplied with a charger and comes in four different colours.
Energy saving bulbs come in many different shapes and wattages, and will replace a bulb of up to 175 watts. As they use less energy, a lower wattage bulb will produce the same amount of light. For example, a 25W low-energy bulb is the equivalent of a standard 100W bulb. Light bulbs must now show their Energy Label rating, so try and pick an A-rated bulb. Also see the Energy Saving Trust for their recommended bulbs.
Add up the number of torches, personal stereos, digital cameras and other gadgets we keep around the home, and most of us would be surprised at how many of them require batteries.
Buying rechargeables instead of standard disposable batteries is a really easy way to reduce the amount of electrical waste we contribute to landfill sites, and saves a lot of energy in the long term. Nearly 700 million batteries are bought every year in the UK, and almost 90 per cent of these are general purpose ones that could probably be replaced with a recyclable alternative.
Most battery chargers will accept nickel cadmium (NiCad) and nickel metal hydride (NiMh) rechargeable batteries, reaching full charge in three to five hours on any AA, AAA or PP3 battery – less time than it takes to remember to go to the shops and buy some more! These batteries can on average be recharged up to 1,000 times, which means that they have a good life-span and will save the owner a significant amount of money compared to disposables.
It is also possible to find a battery charger that relies on solar power, which would save even more energy. Or switch your electricity supply to a renewable energy company and you may find your batteries are being charged by the wind!
Check out The Good Shopping Guide’s section on Batteries (Link) to find out why nickel metal hydride is the best option for rechargeable batteries.
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The small electrical appliances in your home, can use up a surprisingly large amount of energy. There are now a number of intelligent energy saving appliances available which will improve energy efficiency in your home and save you money!
Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen and an energy-saving kettle can save as much as 30% of the energy used by a standard kettle. The Energy Saving Trust say that if every household in the UK used an Energy Saving Recommended kettle, we would save around £170 million of energy a year – enough electricity to power 330,000 homes for a year. See www.energysavingtrust.org.uk for a list of their recommended kettles.
Morphy Richards have developed an iron called the ‘Ecoletric Turbo Steam Iron’ which switches itself off after three minutes to prevent wasting energy. The packaging materials are recycled and 100% recyclable.
Within Morphy Richards ‘Ecolectric’ range, also comes an eco-friendly toaster, which features an innovative auto-close lid which helps to keep the heat close to the bread, which takes less time to brown the toast. It is claimed that this toaster uses an impressive 34% less energy than a standard toaster. It has also been certified by the Carbon Trust.
Slow cookers have had a resurgence in recent years – not surprisingly given our increasingly busy lifestyles. Aside from the benefits of returning home to a hot, tasty meal which is ready to eat, slow cookers are extremely energy efficient – using a similar amount of electricity to a light bulb. They are also a great way to use up vegetables which may otherwise go to waste.
Have you ever been caught short, needing to make an important call with no battery on your phone? The solution to this familiar problem could come from an unlikely source: the green movement. Weighing only 90g, the Freecharge windup charger allows the talkative phone user to make and receive calls at any time, even when their handset has a flat battery. Since the charger is smaller than most phones, it can easily be kept on hand when you’re days from the nearest power-point. The only thing is doesn’t guarantee is enough network to make the call.
The charger produces either 30 to 60 minutes of standby or 2 to 8 minutes of talk time from a three minute wind-up, and can be wound in either direction. It has a built-in LED light to show when the optimum winding speed has been reached and the battery is charging. On average, the Freecharge will charge 60 per cent of the phone’s battery, and the phone can be used while it is being recharged.
The charger is available via internet stockists, and comes with a standard two year warranty.
Solar lights enhance a garden in an easy-to-use, environmentally-friendly way. They produce a visually pleasing solar light that will last all night long. The units can be mounted around a driveway, decking or patio, and each one is completely self-contained, including a solar panel and LED light.
Solar garden lights require no wiring as they charge during the daytime from the sun’s rays, which makes them easy to install. However, they do require a sunny position, although some models will still gain some charge on an overcast day. Solar lights generally come on automatically at dusk, but some have a manual over-ride switch. They do not provide bright surrounding light, but are ideal for marking pathways and garden features with a gentle glowing light.
If proof were needed that technology has infiltrated every area of our lives, just look at the doorbell: whatever happened to knocking on the door? Nevertheless, for noisy neighbourhoods and big houses, one company has come up with an innovative, environmentally friendly alternative to the battery-powered doorbell. The solar door chime uses a bell push unit and a solar panel, which keeps a small battery charged so the chime works in all light levels and at night.
The unit comes with an electronic two-tone chime, five metres of connecting wire and full installation instructions.
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