Conserving water and energy at home is an ongoing task for two groups of people: the ecologically-minded and the budget-focused. Whether you categorize yourself as one or both (as so many folks do these days), it never hurts to have a little help on your conquest to conserve.
That’s why I tracked down these cool tools designed to help you reduce your use. Try one—or all—of them as part of The Home Know-It-All’s Green Around the House Challenge and start saving!
Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector
Hunting down air leaks is as easy as pointing and shooting this handy tool. Shine the leak detector light on the wall to set a reference temperature, then point it at different areas around your house. The light turns blue to indicate a cold spot and red if it’s hot, so you can easily identify leaks. Then all you have to do is seal and insulate to reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent! Price: $39.99. Learn more: blackanddecker.com
Belkin Conserve Energy-Saving Surge Protector
Plugged-in home electronics suck energy even if they’re not in use. But unplugging all those appliances and gadgets all the time can be a real pain. And who wants to unplug the DVR when you’ll miss recording your favorite shows, anyway? Lucky us, both problems are solved with the Belkin Conserve. Plug everything into this surge protector and all you have to do is switch it off with the included remote control to stop power flow. Best of all, two of the plugs stay active even when the others are shut off, so you can keep items such as clocks, wireless Internet routers, or your precious DVR box on all the time. Price: $50–$60. Learn more: belkin.com/conserve
Watt Stopper Passive Infrared Wall Switch Vacancy Sensor
It happens to the best of us—you rush out of the house only to discover hours later upon your return that you left all of the lights in the house blazing. Fortunately, forgetting to switch off the lights when you leave the room isn’t a problem anymore if you install this sensor. It switches them off automatically after a room has been vacant for 30 minutes—and you can still flick the switch yourself whenever you please too. Price: $36. Learn more: wattstopper.com
Versaline Disappearing Clothesline
One of the easiest ways to save energy when it’s laundry time is to stop using the dryer altogether. As GreenYour points out, air-drying some or all of your wet laundry saves you as much as $135 in energy costs every year, prevents tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, and results in less wear on your clothing. Plus line-dried clothes smell so darn good. The problem is, some of us don’t have a yard for or don’t want the permanence of an in-ground line. Fortunately, the Aussies know what to do. They created this disappearing clothesline, which can be mounted any distance apart up to 16.5 feet and disappears out of sight when it’s not in use—just remove it from its brackets and store it in the cupboard. Price: $180–$200. Learn more: clotheslineshop.com
Brondell Perfect Flush
This one won’t be available until May, but I wanted to share it with you anyway because it’s going to be worth the wait. When installed (which should take less than half an hour), this handy gadget turns your everyday toilet into a dual-flush model. A two-button control allows you to dispense less water to flush liquids and more for solids, which can cut your household water use by up to 50 percent. Price: To be determined. Learn more: brondell.com
The Home Know-It-All