These Are 9 Climate Change-Fighting Gadgets You Should Use
Tech may offer the best tools we have in the battle against climate change, given how much time we likely have left to make a fundamental change. There are technologies that need to be implemented on a large scale, like carbon capture, but given that much tech use happens in the home, there’s also a lot we can do at an individual level. Here are nine tech gadgets you can use to help fight climate change.
Perhaps one of the most obvious items on the list, smart thermostats are a must for anyone who wants to take steps at home to tackle climate change. A smart thermostat will regulate the temperature in your home based on settings you choose so you don’t use any more energy than you need. You can also control them from a smartphone if you forget to turn the heat down when you leave for vacation. These devices have become more sophisticated since entering the market—many now include sensors that monitor air temperature in specific zones or identify if a space isn’t being used. Some also remind you when it’s time to perform system maintenance, which keeps your HVAC running more efficiently.
Energy Star certified TV
Energy Star certifies products from refrigerators to computers that help you conserve energy when you’re using essential appliances at home. Since electronics have historically been big energy consumers, making sure your entertainment system (and computer) is as efficient as possible will make a real difference in your energy usage and bill. And while you’re using that entertainment system, consider choosing streaming services that help educate the public about climate change. Companies like MagellanTV have concentrated on creating documentaries about nature and the earth that inform users about what our world has to offer and how it’s being negatively affected. Supporting companies who are public about the importance of climate change helps boost the issue and encourages other companies to join the conversation.
A small device you attach to your car, DriveTag tracks your driving habits and offers feedback on changes you can make to your driving style to reduce fuel usage and cut carbon emissions. Not only is this better for the environment but can also save you fuel: in one study of implementation in a fleet, the use of this device resulted in over 25 percent fuel savings. The device simply sticks to your windshield and gives you feedback via an app.
Smart motorized blinds
An excellent addition to a home with a smart thermostat, smart blinds allow you to change their position remotely on a schedule or even adjust themselves automatically in response to changing outdoor conditions. In the summer, keeping direct sunlight at bay is a significant passive cooling technique that will cut down on AC energy use; in the winter, letting all that sunlight in will help heat your home. Some blinds simply allow control from a remote; for the best efficiency, choose blinds with sensors that will respond to exterior lighting.
Although not everyone can make good use of a solar charger—as they’re obviously dependent on the weather in your area—many of us can use these devices to charge our various devices both at home and on the go. There are models designed for use at home, like the Gingko Solar Tree, or when you’re out and about, like the Voltaic Solar Charger that attaches to a backpack. Tom’s Guide highlights some of the best solar chargers to be had in 2019.
Okay, this isn’t quite a gadget, but given that emissions from gas-powered transportation makes up 29 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, electric or hybrid cars are worth a mention here. Switching from gas to electric is a big step up from using something like DriveTag, but as more electric cars, both new and used, come onto the market, it’s increasingly available. The Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf, for instance, have been around since 1997 and 2010, respectively, so many models are now available to used car buyers. And with more recent attention to developing electric car charging infrastructure, using these vehicles for longer trips is becoming more possible (this was a big limiting factor for many). Also, consider that you can make an electric car your main ride and use rental cars for out-of-town trips; this form of collective car use is more energy-efficient than individual car ownership.
Home energy monitor
Home energy monitors keep track of all the energy usage for your entire home, helping you optimize everything without having to install devices on individual appliances. They will track both gas and electricity and include a sensor you connect to your meter as well as a handheld device that you use to see all the info (some models can also send this info to a smart device). The key to this device is that you use the information it provides to adjust how you’re using electricity and gas at home (perhaps by using a smart thermostat, smart lighting systems, and smart sockets). This can save you from 5 -15 percent of energy use a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Sometimes we get so focused on energy use we forget about other aspects of fighting climate change, like dealing with land use and food waste. We can’t do much about land use at home, but we can combat food waste in our own kitchens by reducing the food we put into the garbage, which then goes to landfills, rots, and releases methane (a greenhouse gas). Home food recyclers are an answer to the challenges of backyard composting: you use them in the kitchen, and they turn food scraps into nutrient-rich soil in as little as three hours. Given that most of us don’t have access to city-wide or privately-run compost pickup options, this is a wonderful and simple answer to the problem of consumer food waste.
Water use is another important component of the climate change problem, as drought becomes increasingly common in many areas. There are a number of low-tech ways to reduce home water usage, but they require habit changes and remembering to do them every time. One easy option is to use a smart showerhead. Different models will do different things in order to cut down on the water you use while showering, but almost all involve a timer that will alert you when you’re exceeding a time threshold. The EvaDrop Smart Shower, for instance, has a sensor that can track where you are in relation to the showerhead and adjust flow rate when you’re further away soaping up or shampooing. It also shuts off water flow when you hit your desired temperature to reduce extra water use before you get into the shower and notifies you when the temp is right.
This is really just a beginning list of what you can do at home to help tackle climate change. Almost every consumer decision you make can be either helpful or harmful, so as you start using the things on this list, get into the habit of considering all your purchases and actions from a climate standpoint.
Author: Morgen Henderson
Morgen is a writer that hails from the beautiful mountains of Utah. She stays current on and writes about a variety of topics, ranging from tech to travel to health and wellness. When she’s not typing away at her computer, you can find her exploring all that the mountains near her home have to offer and adventuring around the globe. You can also find her on Twitter @mo_hendi