Your energy-efficient gift-giving guide for the holidays

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By Terri Williams

Choose an energy-efficient gift this holiday season.

During the holiday season, it’s often difficult to come up with the perfect gift – and frankly, no one wants another pair of socks or an ill-fitting sweater. This year, give your family, friends and co-workers an energy-efficient and sustainability-conscious gift that aligns with their values. Check out these ideas below.

Flannel sheets

 

Flannel sheets can help save on your heating bill.

We all know that lowering the thermostat’s temperature at night can lead to energy savings. But this can be challenging for those of us who get chilly while sleeping. With flannel sheets, you can sleep comfortably and stylishly. For example, The Company Store makes flannel sheets and pillowcases in a variety of solid colors, in addition to prints that include strips, checks, florals, and seasonal designs. You can also get velvet flannel sheets – which are sure to keep even your most cold-natured family member warm!

Low flow showerhead

 

A low flow showerhead can help consumes cut back on water usage.

According to the EPA, almost 17% of the water consumed in the average household is used in the shower. While standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), a showerhead with the WaterSense label can save a significant amount of water and energy each year. The EPA estimates an average family could save 2,900 gallons a year just by using a showerhead with the WaterSense label. And, since there’s less demand on the water heater, that family also can save more than 370 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – enough to power a home for 13 days! Waterpik offers shower heads with various flow rates, from 2.0 GPM (the rate recommended by the EPA).all the way down to 1.6 GPM.

Luxury weighted blanket

Keep warm and save on your energy bills with a weighted blanket.

A blanket that saves energy, provides therapeutic benefits, and doesn’t put a strain on the environment is the trifecta of gifts. Nest Bedding’s Weighted Luxury Blanket is filled with 100% lead-free glass beads sewn between two layers of poly-fil batting. The fleece cover is made of a plush, soft fabric. It’s designed to be washed in cold water and tumble-dried on a low setting, which saves money in the laundry room. And the blanket has an extra bonus: weighted blankets are believed to have therapeutic benefits such as stress relief and deep touch muscle stimulation.

High-performance wool clothing

High performance athleticwear can keep you warm all winter.
If you’re buying a gift for an athletic friend or family member, consider sustainably-produced athleticwear. For example, Kora uses superfine yak wool and DuPont Sorona (a renewably-sourced biopolymer) in its shirts, jackets, leggings, and other high-performance clothing and outerwear. The wool is ethically sourced – the yaks are raised by herders on the Himalayan Plateau. The herders collect loose wool, which is painless for the animals. In addition to being sustainable, yak wool is machine washable in cool water, dries quickly, is normally itch-free and odor-resistant.

Learning thermostat

Learning thermostats can monitor your home's temperature.

One of the best ways to save energy is by making sure you’re not wasting heat or cool air on an empty house. A programmable thermostat allows you to monitor and change the temperature via your smart phone when you’re in another room or at work. A Nest thermostat connects to the Nest app and not only allows remote control, but also lets you check your energy history. In addition, you can receive alerts if there’s something wrong with your furnace or your filters need to be changed. The company claims that it saves people 10% to 12% on heating bills each year.

Hybrid briefcase/backpack

A briefcase/backpack hybrid is a great two-in-one product.

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is by purchasing fewer goods and reusing what you already own. One way to do that is with a hybrid briefcase that doubles as a backpack. This eliminates the need to buy separate items for those on your gift list. Solo makes a briefcase with a fully padded laptop compartment and pockets for a tablet and other essentials. However, it also has hidden padded backpack straps and can easily transformed into a backpack when you want to keep your hands free.

Air purifier

An air purifier can improve the quality of the air inside your home.

At first glance, an air purifier might not seem like an energy-efficient gift. But don’t discount it quite yet. According to Mark Vander Berg, Vice President of Business Development at Alen, “Indoor air quality can be five times dirtier than outdoor air, and a lot of that dust can be reduced with a good air purifier.”

If you can cut down on the dust, you can reduce the amount of vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting that you’ll have to do. And less vacuuming means less energy consumption, while less sweeping and dusting save human energy – which may be even more valuable to your busy family members. However, Vander Berg says the biggest mistake people make is purchasing an air purifier that is too small for that area. “If a purifier is rated for 500 square feet, it will clean that amount of space relatively quickly, but on its highest and loudest speed.” But if you get one that is designed for large rooms, he says it can clean 1300 square feet every 30 minutes – without all the noise.

Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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