We’re well into the 21st century now, and smart technology is finally beginning to catch up with our imaginary projections from last century. Well, our cars aren’t driving themselves yet (at least outside of Google’s Nevada testing), and we still have to use roadways rather than the skies, but today’s tech is definitely on the right track.
Best of all, we’re always inventing new ways to save money by controlling how much energy we’re consuming on everyday activities. Whether you’re interested in saving energy at home or while you’re on the go, there are all sorts of nifty new gadgets out there that can make energy conservation easy, and perhaps even fun. If you’re not lucky enough to be a New Yorker with resources like energyratesnewyork.com, finding new ways to save energy isn’t always simple, but by embracing some of today’s newest technologies you could achieve your conservation goals a lot faster than you might think.
1. Smart Thermostats
You may already have a programmable thermostat in your home, but statistics show it’s also likely that you haven’t actually programmed it. Smart thermostats have burst onto the scene over the past few months, and you may have even heard about them. Some models such as the Nest and the ecobee can take the headache out of programming a thermostat.
Rather than having to plan out when your thermostat should run and when it shouldn’t, with a smart thermostat you simply teach it your habits and it does the rest. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Basically, all you have to do is treat it as a standard thermostat for the few first days, and before you know it, your place will automatically be comfortable whenever you step through the door.
Better yet, keeping your HVAC system from running when no one is around could save you a bundle at the end of the month.
2. Wi-Fi Light Bulbs
Yep, light bulbs are finally breaking the age-old barrier of having an immobile control switch inlaid in your wall. Philips has teamed up with Apple to offer the most hyped version of this technology, but there are some underdogs out there as well, like LIFX.
The idea behind these bulbs isn’t just enabling even more laziness by allowing you to flip off the lights from your favorite spot on the couch. They also allow you to control the lighting in your home from wherever you are, and many also allow you to change the color of the light being emitted thanks to LED technology.
Because the bulbs are LED lights, you’re also sure to save energy, even over CFLs, and while Wi-Fi light bulbs may not be the most necessary technology, you’ll definitely have the coolest party lighting on the block.
3. SVO Cars
This energy-saving technology has been around for a while, but I don’t think it gets enough play. If you have a diesel vehicle, with the right amount of dedication and capital you can transform your ride into a French-fry smelling, free-fuel using king of the road.
SVO stands for straight vegetable oil. If you install a conversion kit in a diesel vehicle, it is possible to run the engine on filtered vegetable oil alone. The catch is that in order for the oil to be viscous enough to flow through the injectors without mucking up the engine, it has to be heated up first. For that reason, SVO cars need to run on diesel for a short period of time on each start – just long enough for the heating coils to get the vegetable oil to an ideal temperature.
4. Smart Power Strips
You may have read about the phantom power consumption that has become standard for many appliances and electronics. Smart power strips offer a tech-friendly way to avoid this unnecessary drain on your wallet.
Many electronics these days are still using power when they’re “turned off” because they are technicallystill in a stand-by mode. Whether you’re talking about your Blu-ray player or your cellphone charger, chances are you’re paying for devices to consume energy even when they’re not in use.
There is a low-tech solution to eliminating phantom power use: Physically unplugging every device in your home when you’re not using it, but that approach can be tedious. Smart power strips offer you an alternative. You can create an intuitive system with some smart power strip models that will allow power to flow to devices like your DVD player and video game system whenever you turn on your TV. This reduces power drain and prevents you from having to dig around behind the entertainment center whenever you want to watch a movie.
5. Vertical-axis Wind Turbines
There’s a new type of wind turbine that is being presented as a viable replacement to the traditional wind turbine models we’ve all come to associate with wind farms and renewable energy in general. Rather than having blades that spin horizontally like a propeller, the blades of these new vertical-axis wind turbines rotate as though they were a gigantic lettuce spinner.
Vertical-axis wind turbines offer several advantages over traditional horizontal-axis models. They can be placed closer together both because they aren’t as wide as horizontal-axis turbines and they don’t have as much of a slowing effect on the strength of wind currents. Furthermore, the equipment that controls the turbine can be installed closer to the ground allowing for easier maintenance access.
Perhaps most importantly, vertical-axis wind turbines don’t require wind currents to be as strong as their horizontal-axis counterparts. That means vertical-axis turbines are ideal for small scale applications, down to individual turbines attached to the chimneys of private homes.
If these new technologies are any indication, we’re on the cusp of a wave of new tech that’s really going to knock our socks off in the next few years. I for one am truly excited about the prospect of my ride navigating me safely to my destination while I browse the day’s updates to White Spaces.