Friday, 12 December 2014

Energy saving gift ideas

Stuck for what to give your loved one? Are they a bit of an energy saving geek? Are they always turning the heating up because they have cold feet? Do they do a lot of cooking? Do they have plants that need watering? Do they get cross when the front door letter box flaps in the wind? Here are some ideas for presents to give people that will save energy (amongst other benefits).
Christmas shopping in Green Street, Cambridge

Please note that I don't have personal experience of any of these products, though I may do next year if my beloved picks up some hints. Also if I point you at a retailer, that doesn't mean I endorse them particularly - most of these are available from more than one retailer so you can shop around.

Foot warmer
For the person with cold feet (or for the person you normally warm your feet on) - a foot warming pad. I rather like the sound of the Lifemax Heated Footplate because you don't have to put your feet inside it, just on it - but there are lots of others including ones that massage you as well. These products save energy because it means you don't have to turn the thermostat so high to keep warm, though they do take some power themselves - typically 40-100W. At the 40W end you could have it on all evening for about 3.5p. 

Radiator booster
A radiator booster sits over your radiator and has a small fan that helps to blow warm air from behind the radiator into the room. It makes your radiator more efficient. Again, this doesn't save energy directly but if you have a room which is always colder than the others, then a booster on the radiator there could mean you don't have to overheat the others. It does take power but not much. The MK3 Compact uses only about 1.5W in active mode - when it senses the radiator is on - and 0.15 W the rest of the time. (I don't guarantee this is effective but it does seem plausible to me and the reviews are mostly good).

Advanced plugs - a remote control or countdown timer
If you have an energy saving obsessive who always switches things off at the plug - or if you wish they did but it means crawling about under the furniture, a remote controlled plug switch might be the thing. Alternatively, if they are always forgetting to turn off the printer (or the iron, or whatever) after use, a countdown plug timer. This allows you to turn on something for a short while - say 15 minutes, or an hour, or 3 hours, and then it automatically turns off.

Pressure cooker
You may recall I was very impressed with the energy saving capabilities of a pressure cooker when I borrowed one from my neighbour (see Efficiency of different ways to cook potatoes). Unfortunately my beloved is nervous about explosions (having had personal experience when a student) but they should be fine as long as you keep the valve clean. And as well as saving energy, a pressure cooker saves time. For example you can make stock in 1 hour instead of 5 hours.

Draught proof letter box
Do you have a draughty letter box? This is terrible if you have a front door that opens straight into your living room, not quite so bad if it opens into the hall. Anyway, it is relatively easy to fix. I like the sound of the Ecoflap which is designed to avoid flapping in the wind.

Bath water diverter
Finally, you can save water from your bath or shower to use in the garden with a Bath Water Diverter. It allows you to direct water from a drain pipe into your water butt or hose. However, I should warn you that if you have long hair, as I used to until recently, it can block up your water butt tap and is fairly revolting to clear out. That isn't why I cut my hair, I should add, though not having to fish slimy hair from plug holes is an added advantage. In case you are wondering how this saves energy - well if you would have used tap water instead you've saved all the energy used to pump that water and make it clean enough to drink.

I hope I've given you some ideas now. There is still time to get these before the holiday. Happy present hunting :-)

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