Cool Energy Efficient Gifts for 2020

“No One Has Ever Become Poor by Giving.”

~Anne Frank

A Tiny Rant

I have ranted in the past, still do now, and will do so in the future about the amount of waste that is generated by Americans during the holidays. The average US household throws away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year's, more than any other time of year. That waste adds an additional 25 million tons of garbage to an already overburdened system.

The average US household throws away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year

I have written about, encouraged, and given gifts of experience, but the truth is sometimes people just want or need a physical thing. In many cases the gift makes sense because the person you are buying the gift for would buy it for themselves anyway.

I'm Trying Something a Little Different

This year I’m taking a slightly different approach to gift giving recommendations, a sort of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ attitude.

In this post I have listed four simple gift ideas that are practical, will help the receiver save money and make both of you feel good about doing something positive for the planet.

I believe strongly that people are moving away from gifts that are completely self-indulgence but want to give and receive gifts that inspire joy and add value to owner’s life.

Electronic devices often fit the description of practicality and convenience. But what if that electronic gift can also have a positive impact on the recipient's life and the world at large? In these difficult times, many of us have a greater appreciation for the things that protect the health of the planet for everyone.

Did you know the average household owns 24 consumer electronics products? The more you invest in items designed to save energy, the more the savings will rack up. That is especially important now, as families use multiple electronics for work and school. For watching favorite shows, surfing or connecting with friends through Zoom sessions during times of social distancing.

Pro Tip: Tablets use four times less energy than streaming to a laptop and 15 times less than a desktop computer. 

When you're shopping for a shiny new appliance or gadgets to make someone's life easier during quarantine, here's how your gift can do a world of good: Look for products that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. These are independently certified to use less energy than standard products, which means energy bill savings and a cleaner environment.

Here are some holiday shopping list ideas to inspire you.

Sound Bar

As flat screens have gotten sleeker and it has gotten more difficult for manufactures to imbed high quality sounding speakers into their television frames.  A cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to this problem is a sound bar. It is an all-in-one external speaker that is easy to install with one cable to the audio output side of your television.

Sound bars produce extremely high-quality sound and at a fraction as a full surround sound system.  They use less energy and less components which is a win-win for you and the planet.

An energy-efficient sound bar offers a sleek solution to achieving that rich stereo effect but uses 70% less energy than a conventional model.  Check out the huge selection of sound bars available here.

Smart Thermostat

A smarter solution to save heating costs: Now that more people are spending time at home, they're spending less on dining and gasoline. However, home energy costs have skyrocketed. Smart thermostats take the guesswork out of maximizing energy efficiency and choosing an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat means savings you can trust. Were everyone to make the switch, we would save 56 trillion BTUs of energy and $740 million a year, offsetting 13 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Two of the most popular smart thermostats to consider are by Nest and Honeywell.

For further reference here is a previous post I wrote on using Programmable Thermostats to Reduce Your Impact on the Plant.


Appliances with noticeable cost savings: Even when the purchase price is nice, do not overlook this hidden cost of owning appliances: The cost of operating the product. So, if you are eyeing a new washer dryer set as the perfect holiday gift, make sure it is energy efficient. You will feel good helping the people you love realize more than 20% savings on their electric bill while using one-third less water compared to the standard models.

I personally this year bought a new washer, dryer and a refrigerator.  Every time I started my search for a replacement appliance I went straight the ENERGY STAR Guide.  There are so many options and sizes when it comes to selecting a new appliance that it is nice to know all the ones listed on the ENERGY STAR site are the most efficient ones out there.

Pro Tip: After determining the appliance you want you can purchase it through ENERGYSTAR partners or call around to smaller local stores to see if you can find it for a better price.

Here are a list of other blog posts I have written on various appliances to help you select the right appliance as a gift.

Bidet 101: The Gift that Keeps Giving

How to use a Washing Machine: To Save Water & Energy

10 Ways to Improve a Refrigerators Energy Efficiency

Hand Washing Dishes vs Using a Dishwasher

Energy Efficient Bulbs

A bright idea for stocking stuffers: Here's a small gift that can light up their lives and save some serious bucks. A single energy-efficient light bulb can save more than $50 in electricity costs over its lifetime. If each American home replaced just a single bulb to one that earned the ENERGY STAR certification, we would prevent more than 7 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

There are energy efficient bulbs that need every possible demand there is and they are just getting better.  There are everyday duty efficient lightbulbs to others that can be programed for color and sound!

Now You Know

Ok, so now you know a little more about how ENERGY STAR-certified appliances and devices can do a world of good, for the recipient as well as our planet. Be sure and check out their handy gift guide by visiting ENERGY STAR Holiday Guide.

Make a Difference Where You Can

As a Green Warrior I know that at times I need to make compromises in order to make a difference.  I have no intention of backing off of my normal message of giving gifts of experience or not to give physical gifts at all.  

However, if I'm marching around spewing a message that sounds unappealing to many then how will I ever reach them with the underlining message of what it means to live sustainably?

I'll take the win of people happily receiving and using gifts that consume less energy even though it's not the ideal outcome to me.  Sometime we have to go hard at the situation and other times we need to compromise.  Baby steps are better than no steps at all.

Happy Shopping!