Energy efficiency, carbon footprint, emissions: You know these are measurements you should monitor and adjust, but how to get started? What’s the best way for an Average Joe (or Jane) to take charge of their energy use?
Thankfully you don’t have to pursue a fancy science degree to begin understanding your carbon footprint. Instead, you just have to find the right combination of gadgets and apps to help you monitor and adjust your energy consumption.
To get you started, here are 9 of the most helpful gadgets and apps currently available.
1. OWL + USB
There are plenty of monitors available that measure the energy use of a single appliance. For those who want a comprehensive report of the energy use of your entire house, check out OWL + USB.
Simple to install, OWL tracks the energy consumption of your entire house, and the USB hook up enables you to download that information to your PC (sorry Apple users). Up to 2 years of data can be stored, viewed and graphed. What’s more, OWL summarizes you your greenhouse gas impact, as well as energy costs.
2. Black and Decker Thermal Leak Protector
Black and Decker’s Thermal Leak Protector promises to save homeowners on HVAC costs by identifying energy leaks. Simple plug in your reference temperature and point the device at your walls. The detector’s LED screen will change color when it is pointed at a cold spot, alerting you to problem areas.
3. Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Mobile
A popular combo is the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Mobile. Together, the thermostat and app work to make your home as energy efficient as possible, while allowing you remote control from your smartphone.
The Nest Thermostat works to learn your schedule and preferences for optimal programming. Nest Mobile allows you to change your settings no matter where you are; a few taps of your phone ensure no energy is wasted on an empty home.
4. Belkin Energy Saving Smart AV Power Strip
Belkin’s Energy Saving Smart AV Power Strip doesn’t fall into the category of a monitoring app or gadget. It does, however, provide a great line of defense against energy vampires.
Do you frequently forget to turn off your speakers or gaming system when you turn off your TV? Simply plug your TV and all its companion devices into the power strip; then, when you turn off your TV, all the other devices are turned off as well, preventing them from leaching energy.
Kill-Ur-Watts is a free app that takes a lot of the guesswork out of reducing your energy use. The app tracks your energy consumption and gives you more information about your carbon footprint.
The app also provides easy-to-use graphs, as well as tips and strategies for energy reduction (based on your unique consumption). The combination of energy tracking and reduction strategies makes this app perfect for those who don’t simply want to know their consumption but want to do something about it.
6. Wiser EMS
Similar to Kill-Ur-Watts, Wiser EMS is a free app designed to provide you with easy-to-understand graphic representation of your energy use and problem areas. Individuals who learn best visually will enjoy Wiser EMS’s use of infographics to impart information.
7. Light Bulb Finder
Light Bulb Finder is another free app designed to make energy efficiency easier and more attainable. The app takes in information regarding your current light bulbs and then makes recommendations for earth- and cost-friendly alternatives. Even better, the app will also help you figure out where to purchase the bulbs.
It’s surprisingly easy for your mind to trick you into thinking you’re saving time or gas money, when in actuality you’re losing more than you gain. FuelGood tracks every aspect of your driving trips — time, distance, miles-per-gallon — and alerts you to inefficient driving habits, such as going way over the speed limit. The app is free and can help save your gas budget by improving your driving efficiency.
CarbonDiem is a tracking app that is perfect for those who want to learn more about their carbon footprint. The app lets you know your footprint based on your method of transportation: walking, driving, flying, etc. It even tracks the calories you burn when using low-emissions transport like walking or biking.
The above apps and gadgets are simple, accessible ways to learn more about and improve your energy usage and emissions. The more you learn about your environmental impact, the better chance you have of reducing it. In the end, it doesn’t matter what app or equipment you choose, as long as you’re willing to take that first step toward improving your impact on the planet.
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