” LET IT SHINE: LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights outshine traditional incandescent strands in energy efficiency, safety and durability. They cost more but aren’t wildly expensive, ranging from $16-$26 for a 25-foot strand. According to a Consumer Reports study, the LED versions typically use 1-3 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, compared with 12-105 kWh for the incandescents, saving $1 to $11 for 300 hours of use. LED string lights are also available in a solar-powered variety from Choose Renewables ($45/multicolor, $50/white). Caveat emptor: All holiday light strands we could find are strung on wires coated with lead-containing PVC.
” BACK SAVER: Winter presents a dilemma for the eco-conscious: Do we hire someone to plow our driveway, cringe as we fire up the snow blower or get out the shovel and hope our back doesn’t hate us for it later? Now there’s an easier, emission-free option called the Sno Wovel ($120). A shovel blade mounted on what looks like an oversized bicycle wheel, it’s received invention awards from Popular Mechanics and Time. And a University of Massachusetts study determined the Wovel “reduces lower back stress to something akin to “simply walking” and dramatically reduces overall physical exertion by as much as 75-80% or more versus traditional snow shovels.”
CONTACT: Structured Solutions II, LLC.
” SECURITY BLANKET: If your hot water tank is an older model with an insulation level below R-24, it’s a good idea to swaddle that energy sucker. (If you don’t know the R-value but the tank’s warm to the touch, it needs a blankie.) Adding insulation can reduce heat loss by 25%—45%, lowering water-heating costs by 4%—9%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. For a fiberglass-free option, consider the Max Reflect Barrier Water Heater Blanket from P.S. Manufacturing ($40). It’s made of 40% recycled content and is 5/16” thick, so it’s easier to use on tanks in tight places.
CONTACT: P.S. Manufacturing.