Best energy efficiency products: Pricing & reviews

Energy-saving technologies can simultaneously reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. From LED light bulbs to energy monitors to solar panel systems, there's an opportunity for almost anyone to use today's technology to save energy around their home.

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An energy-efficient product is any type of product that performs the same function as its non-energy-efficient alternative while consuming less energy. Energy-efficient items, like lightbulbs and power strips, eliminate inefficient practices of traditional and commonly used household items.

Energy-efficient products reduce the amount you spend on energy bills. By paying slightly more money upfront to buy an energy-efficient product, you will see returns accumulate over time as you shave small chunks off your monthly energy bill.

Choosing energy-efficient devices and products has environmental benefits as well. Because these products reduce energy use, they also reduce the demand for fossil fuel-generated electricity from coal and natural gas. Less energy generation from fossil fuels leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy-efficient products are highly variable and span many categories of consumer products. To understand the benefits and drawbacks of individual products, research other items similar to the one you are considering. 

Physical features

Hardware features impact the function and aesthetic of products like power strips, switches, faucets, and more. The number of outlets on a power strip, the types of buttons and options on a light switch, and a button (or lack thereof) for different stream types on a faucet are all examples of physical features that can differentiate energy-efficient products.

Energy Star certification

Energy Star-certified products meet strict energy performance standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. Put another way, Energy Star-compliant products are certified by the government as highly energy efficient. Products without an Energy Star rating can still be reliable, efficient, and high quality, but the Energy Star logo adds reassurance to the products you purchase.

Energy-efficient upgrades range from simple switches that cost less than $20 to major home improvement investments. Below are general categories of popular energy-efficient products to help reduce your electric bill and build a smarter, greener home.

Efficient light bulbs

Traditional incandescent light bulbs have existed for many years but are not as efficient as more modern options. Most efficient light bulbs use LEDs, which are dramatically better than incandescent bulbs for energy usage and lifetime. Efficient light bulbs also often include smart home features like wireless control and color variability.

Advanced power strips (APS)

Many appliances that are "turned off" but still plugged in continue to draw electricity. The energy consumed by devices not in use is known as "phantom loads" and can add hundreds of dollars to your energy bill annually. Advanced power strips (APS) function like a surge protector and combat phantom loads by reducing the energy plugged-in appliances draw. 

Smart switches

Many homes spend more energy than they need on lighting. In addition to the excess energy used by incandescent light bulbs, it's common to leave the lights on for long periods. Smart light switches use motion sensing and programmable timers to help automatically turn off lights around your home and cut down on electricity waste.

Low-flow faucets and shower heads

Low-flow shower heads reduce the water needed during a shower, effectively reducing your water and utility bills. With the standard flow rate for shower heads at 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), low-flow shower heads can cut the amount of water used in half. 

Smart thermostats

One of a homeowner's most significant monthly expenses is climate control. Keeping your home warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and generally comfortable 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the whole year, consumes tons of energy and contributes to a significant part of your home's carbon footprint. Smart thermostats provide both fine control and hands-off services to help you reduce your energy use. Almost every smart thermostat can be controlled via a mobile app, raising or lowering your home temperature from anywhere with an internet connection. With app functionality, you can "pre-heat" your home before you return after work or even turn off your system remotely to save money and energy. This remote access, among other features, lets you shave down your energy costs around heating and cooling.

Some products, like the Google Nest Thermostat, can even learn from your habits and customize your home climate scheduling. After a week of manually changing your thermostat to fit your lifestyle, the Nest Learning Thermostat will begin automatically adjusting temperatures and taking opportunities when it knows you will be out of the house to turn off your climate system and save energy.

If you want to connect your smart thermostat to other smart devices in your home or even control it with your voice, a smart hub or speaker is an excellent option for your connected home network.

Energy monitors

If you want to understand the inner workings of your home electricity use while simultaneously receiving suggestions for lowering your energy costs, energy monitors are an effective solution. By connecting your energy monitor to your electricity meter, you can get information about the energy use of individual appliances, real-time costs, and direct actions you can take to lower your home energy consumption.

Many energy monitors have mobile and web apps that allow you to see your energy usage from your laptop or smartphone. They can also notify you when an abnormal pattern of energy use is detected and which appliance might be the culprit. Most importantly, a good energy monitor will provide suggestions and ideas about reducing your home energy usage, helping you lower your carbon footprint while saving money on your electric bill.

Electric vehicles and chargers

Driving an electric vehicle is one of the most impactful ways to reduce your carbon footprint. A car powered by electricity produces fewer fossil fuel emissions and will cost you less money in the long run.

Driving electric means that you need to regularly charge your car. To ensure you're never short on driving range, investing in an electric vehicle charging station, also known as an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment), may make sense. With an electric vehicle charging station installed in your home, you can recharge your EV overnight for both a lower price and environmental impact than a conventional gas station visit in a conventional gasoline-powered car.

Solar energy systems

Going solar is the most effective and lasting way to shrink your home's carbon footprint. By installing a solar energy system on your house, you can begin producing free electricity from the sun, the most abundant and reliable renewable energy resource.

On the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can solicit quotes from qualified, pre-vetted installers and compare them side by side. Our installers offer many types of solar installation and can work with you to customize a perfect home solar solution to meet your energy needs while cutting down drastically on your carbon footprint.

Review: Hue by Philips

Available in traditional white, customizable white, or colored options, the Philips Hue LED light bulb is a great way to have fine control over your home lighting. Through the Philips Hue mobile app, you can control your lights from anywhere there is internet, group lights by room, and use pre-set "scenes" to create a specific atmosphere in your home. The Hue is compatible with just about every smart home hub and speaker out there, allowing full integration of the Hue setup into your existing smart home network.

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Review: LIFX A19 by LIFX

The LIFX A19 bulb boasts billions of colors and integrations with smart home devices like Alexa, Hey Google, HomeKit, and Siri. Like the Hue, the A19 is a highly efficient LED bulb. Using the mobile app, you can tweak any aspect imaginable of your LIFX's color settings and even use extra effects to make your bulb appear like a candle or a strobe light, among other options.

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Review: 60W Replacement LED by Cree

If colorful bulbs aren't for you and you simply want to replace inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home, look to the Cree 60W Replacement LED. The idea behind the bulb is to replace your typical 60-watt incandescent bulbs with a comparable light in every sense, with one main difference: efficiency. The Cree bulb only uses 9.5 watts. Its design is modern yet subtle, appearing like a typical incandescent bulb from most angles. With a promised lifespan of 25,000 hours, a 10-year warranty, and a low price tag, the Cree Replacement LED is an affordable and polished bulb to help you save energy without sacrificing light output and performance.

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Review: 7-Outlet APS by TrickleStar

TrickleStar's 7-Outlet APS is a great introductory power strip option to help reduce your home's phantom load. It works by using a master control outlet to switch on or off all of its "switched" outlets. For example, if you plug your TV or computer into the control outlet and devices like game consoles, DVD players, and stereos into the switched outlets, whenever your TV is turned off, all of the switched outlets are cut off. This removes electricity flow to and phantom load loss from several associated appliances. TrickleStar's APS will help you effortlessly save energy, and setup is as simple as plugging in a normal power strip.

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Review: 7-Outlet APS Plus by TrickleStar

If you want to take your phantom load prevention a step further than a Tier 1 APS, aptly-named Tier 2 power strips are a next-level energy efficiency solution. Tier 2 advanced power strips work the same way as Tier 1 strips, with the added benefit of activity monitoring. 

TrickleStar's 7-Outlet APS Plus is a high-quality and efficient introductory Tier 2 APS. Like the Tier 1 APS, the Tier 2 APS has several switched outlets that are controlled by a master outlet/device. TrickleStar's Tier 2 APS can also power down the switched outlets through activity monitoring. The power strip uses motion sensors to detect user engagement and can power down its switched outlets if it determines the setup is not in use.

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Review: Maestro Switch by Lutron

Lutron's Maestro Sensor switch is the solution for anybody interested in saving energy by simply turning your lights off automatically. Equipped with a motion sensor that can detect fine motion within 900 square feet, this light switch will make sure to keep the lights on when you want them on and turn them off when you leave. Installation is straightforward for someone with experience in home wiring, but it may be smart to have your electrician do the job for you to avoid mistakes or getting hurt. The Maestro Sensor switch is a simple, low-effort product that solves an everyday energy efficiency problem and is perfect for anybody looking to effortlessly save money through your home lighting.

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Review: Low Flow Shower Head by High Sierra

High Sierra's Low Flow Shower Head boasts an impressive 1.25 gallons per minute rating, making it one of the most water and energy-efficient shower heads available. By delivering water through a small spray nozzle at high speeds, it feels just like a regular shower but uses half the amount of water as a normal shower head. Its design is also meant to minimize the potential for clogging. Like many home hardware products, having a professional install your High Sierra shower head may cost more but will prevent damage to your home water setup during the installation process.

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