General ramblings

Electricity Saving Gadgets and Gizmos

March 19, 2014

Our Electric (I hope you are all appreciating the ingenious double meaning use of Electric this week, electric as in electricity, and electric as in cool, and exciting and fully charged with awesome-ness…) week for the Great Energy Race continues.
Yesterday, if you missed it, there was a long (some might say fairly dry and dull…) post with hints and tips for general electricity saving. Today, we are looking at the gadgets and gizomes (of which there are many) that can help us to reduce our electricity use. We e-mailed the very helpful chaps and chapesses at Nigel’s Eco Store, to see if they could advise us on the best things out there, and they very kindly replied. Below are some of their recommendations.
Are any of them going to win us the Great Energy Race..?!

Electricity Monitors
Current cost
These are supposed to be the bee’s knees. Just the very fact that you have one (and you plug it in and look at it) can apparently help you to cut electricity costs by up to 15% (I am assuming the costs of having plugged in are negligible..)
There are lots and lots of different ones out there, but never fear, there is a post to come on this very blog all about them very soon!

Standby Savers
We all know that leaving things on standby is a Bad Thing.
As a nation, we spend £1.2 billion a year leaving things on standby. That is just plain wrong.
But there are some things that don’t actually have an ‘Off’ switch, and the plugs are often hard to reach.
Our DVD player was one such thing-there was no way to turn it off, except for at the wall. Until my mum and dad bought us a nifty thing one Christmas. I have to confess to not paying too much attention to it, hubby installed it, and now to turn the DVD properly off, we have to aim the remote at the plugs behind it, and it magically turns off. I now realise this must have been a Standby Saver.
There are lots of different sorts available, but I guess they all do a similar thing. There is a good range here on Nigel’s Eco Store

Energy Saving Motion Sensor
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 20.49.47
Whilst browsing Standby Savers (don’t say I don’t know how to have fun..) I saw this. And I am intrigued. In my head, it turns off all the lights and all the appliances in the room, when you have gone out and there is no longer any motion to detect in the room. If that is the case, I want one. In every room. What a fabulous idea.
But I can’t actually work out from the description if that is indeed what it does. And if it is actually what it does, how do you prevent it turning stuff off when you are sat quietly minding your own business watching the TV?
Has anyone tried one of these?

Savasocket
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 20.47.41
I mentioned the other day that hubby’s phone sounds an alarm when it is charged, prompting us to unplug it, but sometimes we are not around to hear it, and anyway most phones don’t have these alarms. Never fear! Here is a nifty device that cuts the power to the battery once it is full-genius!

Computer Eco-button
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 20.48.54
Another ingenious invention. You connect this up to you PC, and then everytime you take a break/the phone rings/you go to get a cup of tea, you hit the button, and it puts your computer into the most economical sleep mode (who knew there were levels of sleep mode?!). Then when you come back, it instantly springs back into action precisely where you left off.
Sadly, this only works for Windows systems and not Macs, but it sounds pretty cool.

Solar and wind up radios
Since starting the Great Energy Race, I have obviously been looking fairly closely at the things we have plugged in. And as a result, I am more often than not, leaving the radio left turned off in the morning. Which is ok, but makes me feel a little sad. I quite like the background hum of Radio 2, and singing along, or on the odd occasion making the kids look at me like I am a loon if I start dancing.
So these radios could be the answer to my problem. They sound like a really great idea-but do they work in practice? Do we get enough sun in the UK to ensure one of these works for more than 2 minutes at a time? Any reviews?

Solar chargers
On paper these sound like a great idea-there are even some that are able to store the solar energy in a battery, which sound pretty cool. But do they work? Would love some feedback if anyone has tried one.

Energy Saving Nightlights
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 20.53.36
If you have a little person who likes to sleep with a night light, or like to have one in hall in case you get caught short in the middle of the night, then one of these would be fabulous. It is low energy, and costs about 1p a week to have on!

Water powered clock!
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 20.54.53
I would like to get one of these to replace my bedside clock-it has a water powered battery, that you simply re-fill every 2-3 months! How cool is that?!

As ever, this an inter-active process, and I would love to hear your experiences, and any other gadgets you have used to cut down on the ‘leccy.

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  • Reply mymoneysavingjourney March 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    My boss recently bought a wind up radio from John Lewis. After researching, it was the one that held the charge for the longest. Can’t remember exactly how long that was but am sure it was something like 12 hours. Anyway, he is really pleased with it.

    • Reply Jen March 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

      That’s great, thanks for letting me know-will do some more research!

  • Reply lesleygcooper March 19, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Hi Jen, inspired by your series this week, I have just done a little experiment as I was curious if heating water to boiling point was cheaper using the kettle or the microwave.
    I measured and boiled a 600ml mugful in the (cold) kettle. Using the stopwatch on my phone, it boiled in 53 seconds, so call it 1 minute. The kettle is 2520-3000W, so that works out to 0.05kwh
    the microwave took 4 minutes to boil the water in the mug. The microwave is 1000w, so that works out to 0.07kwh
    I expected the microwave to beat the kettle hands down

    just goes to show, just like meal planning, you really do have to actually work it out

    caveats being, it may be more efficient to use something other than a mug in the microwave as the mug itself absorbs some of the energy
    biggest kettle problem for me is that OH seems to think he is being inconsiderate if he boils anything less than a kettle full as ‘you might need it for something’. He has even been known to fill the kettle, switch it on, then go up the paper shop as he wants a cup of tea when he gets back

    wonder if you can get super insulated kettles to keep the heat in, ours gets very hot. Or maybe as you use the water straight away, insulation is irrelevant
    The more I think about things like this, the more questions I have

    • Reply Jen March 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Wow, what awesome experimentation-love it!
      As you say, it is often the case that when you start looking at things more closely, you end up generating (get it!) more questions than answers!

  • Reply Chris March 19, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Caution! I wanted a battery radio as I do not have a spare socket in the kitchen , I looked at the solar radios but wimped out and bought a Roberts radio with a built in charger which promised a very long battery life, beware this is only on non rechargeable batteries on rechargeables it lasts less than a week, very dissapointing.
    Also I can borrow a Electricity Monitor from the library so you may be able to do this too.
    I would so love a water clock the was a write up on one on the Tree Hugger yesterday

    • Reply Jen March 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Ooh, I’ll check out the Tree Hugger article, thank you!
      Yes, we have a monitor from the library-blogging it tomorrow 🙂

  • Reply lizlovingandlearning March 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Thanks for doing this. Even though I think I know a lot about these things it’s really helpful to get reminded and get some new ideas.

    We had one of the early solar/wind up radios. If left in a sunny window it would come on quite early. It didn’t have to be bright sun but not in actual shade. The wind up mechanism was good but wore out sooner than we felt it should have for the price we paid. It never completely broke but something to do with the speed it ran at affected the radio. That didn’t stop the solar mode from working fine. I was told by a classical music buff that the slight noise wind up made affected the quality of the music but that would only be if you were listening to particular types of music. More modern ones have hopefully ironed out some of these problems. We can only get radio reception through broadband now so haven’t bought a newer one.

    I looked at computer eco buttons but decided my computer (and I’m sure most others) has settings which put it into whichever sleep mode you choose however quickly you choose. If you don’t want the computer going off when you just spend a minute or two thinking there are also ways to run the cursor to the sleep place pretty quickly. I suspect this of being a greenwash gadget. (Such gadgets do have some use in raising awareness).

    I have the loan of a monitor which I really must get round to trying!

    • Reply Jen March 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Thanks for this Liz, some useful info.
      I had no idea you could change the settings on the computer-I will investigate!

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