T’is the time for giving – and these gifts give a little more. We have compiled a list of our favourite energy-saving devices and items for you to consider giving to your nearest and dearest to both save energy and some money, too.
Winter is a particularly hard time for heating homes and lighting the dark, so it’s important to both be aware of how much energy we are using and whether we are using it well. Not only are these gift ideas great environmentally and economically, but many are super handy for day to day activities, too.
Read our full list here:
1. Smart sockets
We are all guilty of it: leaving our devices and appliances on standby. As it turns out, this isn’t a great way to treat our electrical gadgets, and it can run up some bills, too. In short, turning an appliance on standby doesn’t mean it’s off, but rather running at low capacity instead. This means that it still uses a small amount of energy – and you’re the one paying for it. It’s better, therefore, to switch your appliances off at the plug.
Smart sockets make this easier. These devices allow you to remotely turn off your devices at the plug (preventing that awkward reaching behind the TV and sofa!) or even set the plug on a timer. This means you can put your laptop or phone on charge for just an hour or two overnight instead of eight to ten.
2. Solar lights
The winter months are especially dark and we often need more lighting around our home, including on the outside. For instance, you may have a loved one who likes to play fetch with their dog or tinker at their car after work, and they will need lighting. You may also have a loved one who prefers to keep their driveway or yard lit with motion-detector lights for security reasons.
While electric lights do the job, solar lights will help them to utilise the power of the sun and save a little energy. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For instance, there are lights and sensors which are staked into the lawn, and others still which can be attached to walls. They can be motion detecting or more decorative, in fairy light form, and are a great way to both go green and save some cash.
3. Smart thermostat
The smart thermostat allows users to adjust heating remotely. It also provides the option of setting the temperature by room and by time. For instance, you may want to divert your energy budget towards rooms you use more often or are naturally cooler, and keep your house at milder temperature during the day when you are out. This allows you better control of your home heating and a better understanding of how you use it.
4. Smart light switches
These are quite simple little gadgets: they switch lights on and off remotely, and also set them on timers so that they come on automatically at a given time. You may be buying a gift for someone who works long hours and often arrives home to a dark porch, or simply prefers to keep their home lighting on until after they go to bed, for which this could be a great option. Even the simplicity of being able to turn off a forgotten light downstairs from your phone while you are already in bed makes this a great addition to a home.
5. Dryer balls
Dryer balls make a great stocking filler. They can be made from silicone, plastic or oftentimes sheep’s wool, and work by allowing better airflow and spread of heat in the tumble dryer so that clothes and towels dry faster. This means that you can run the tumble dryer for a shorter length of time and save a little more energy than usual.
They might even be scented, alleviating the need for fragranced dryer sheets.
6. Radiator booster
A radiator booster sits along the length of your radiator and uses a small, quiet fan to distribute the heat from your radiator around the room. This keeps the room warm and also heats it faster, making it especially useful in rooms like your bedroom or living room which you may want to be extra cosy. What’s more is that it is said to pay for itself within just 10 weeks.
7. Warm woollies
Who doesn’t love a good pair of socks? It may seem like too tried and true an option but good-quality, warm clothing can be a real help over the winter period. Think fleece-y pyjamas, fluffy socks and thermal tights. They don’t even need to be especially practical, so long as they are warm and will prevent your loved one reaching for the thermostat instead.
8. Smart meter
You may be wondering what the difference is between a smart thermostat and smart meter. They are rather similar, but where the thermostat controls heating, the smart meter gives you information about the energy you are using, such as how much, the cost, CO2 emissions and general room temperature. It helps users to have a better understanding of their energy consumption and allows them to make better choices going forward.
9. Drying rack
Tumble dryers are notoriously expensive compared to drying clothes on the washing line outside. However, over the winter, drying clothes outside is rarely a possibility, and even during the summer, we may experience stretches of rainy weather. The answer to these issues is to simply dry our clothes inside, such as hanging them over radiators or furniture, but a kind gift could be a dryer rack. These can be either standing or attached to the ceiling, and allow for easy, cheap drying all year round – and a lack of dependence on the tumble dryer on those wetter, colder days.
10. Draught excluder
A draught excluder doesn’t have to be boring. Try a draught excluder that looks like a happy little dachshund and you can have a handy energy-saving gift which is also whimsical and fun. If a unicorn or a long, skinny bunny rabbit aren’t your loved one’s cup of tea, websites like Etsy and Not On The High Street have lots of handmade draught excluders with tasteful, unique fabrics.
We know that energy prices across Northern Ireland have been on the increase this year, so gifts like this could be especially welcome to combat these costs. Where holly wilts and chocolates are devoured, a cosy warm home is for always, and while saving money is universally enjoyed, that glass ornament you are considering may not be, so be sure to save a few of these ideas for your Christmas shopping.
Of course, if you are searching for a gift to give to yourself instead, you might compare your electricity or gas deal with Power to Switch for a cheaper energy deal. It’s no risk, no cost and all gain: Power to Switch typically saves its customers £140 when they switch.