You often have to invest money (or time, which is money) in order to make money. Some investments are smaller and have quicker payoffs, while some investments are larger and have longer (though, often more significant) payoffs. The nice thing about money-saving investments in the home is that these investments often also save energy — which protects our climate, air, and water; which then keeps us healthier and safer, saving us… money.
As the holiday season rolls in, many of us are trying to figure out what to buy our loved ones. Many of those gifts are, of course, gifts for people living in our homes, and are thus going to be used by us as well. You can help to save your loved ones and yourself a boatload of money with the following 5 green gifts. I hope you will choose at least one of them for this holiday season!
1. Solar Panels!
Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, you’re probably starting to miss the sun right now, but the sun is never gone, and it’s extremely reliable. The sun never says, ‘Ah, man, I don’t feel like getting up today. I’m staying in bed.’ This magnificent orb of heat and light has many times more energy potential than any other energy source. And, luckily, the fuel it sends to earth is free. Of course, we have to buy the solar panels to turn that solar energy into electricity, but the cost of solar has come down so much in the past few years (100 times over since 1977, and 50% since 2008) that the average American who goes solar saves about $20,000 over 20 years from their solar power systems.
Is $20,000 savings enough for you? Then check out the solar options in your area and find out how much you and your loved ones could likely save — it may even be much more than $20,000.
Also note that a lot of people go solar through a solar leasing contract, so they don’t put any money down up front, or put very little money down up front, and then save money on their electricity bills from the first month.
2. An Electric Car
Yep, I’m starting with the big boys. Electricity and gasoline swallow up huge chunks of most people’s budgets. They’re also two of the biggest contributors to global warming. Now that we’ve tackled the electricity situation, let’s move on to gas… and back to electricity. Electric cars are much more efficient than gasoline-powered cars. Furthermore, if you charge them with your solar panels, they are super duper clear. There are now about 15 different electric car models for sale in the US. That’s a healthy selection of cars to choose from! Due to their much more efficient motors, even though electric cars tend to cost more up front (because of their battery systems), they save you money in the long run. Often, the payback can be within just 2–5 years. If you decide to lease instead of buy, you can actually save money right off the bat.
By the way, electric cars are also tons more fun to drive!
Incandescent light bulbs are like those bulk old TVs that most of us grew up with — out of date, inefficient, and ugly. Perhaps you got on the CFL bandwagon, or perhaps you didn’t, but the age of lighting is now the age of LEDs. LEDs are ridiculously more efficient and have now come down enough in cost that they make economical sense for the average consumer. You can now find LEDs as Home Depot and Walmart, so be sure to put some of these innovative light bulbs on your gift list for the practical types in your life.
4. Energy-Saving Blinds
To complete your energy-saving home, some spiffy new energy-saving blinds are a good green gift. A ton of heat goes out of your home via the windows. If you better insulate them — through better windows themselves and energy-saving blinds — you (and the family member who you gift these to) can reduce your heating or electricity bills significantly and save a lot of money.
The interactive energy home was designed by Blinds Supermarket, and this post is generously supported by Hillary’s Blinds. To come up with even more green gifts to give to your family or friends, and how to save money this Christmas/holiday season, check out that link and then hover over the “i” bubbles.