It’s almost here—that special time of year when shopping moves from a basic necessity to a competitive sport and stores are offering deals that may stop you in your tracks. As Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah are closing in, and with fewer weekends than usual before the end of the year, the pressure to shop ‘til you drop is stronger than ever. But don’t panic—we and some of our friends will help you though this pressure cooker situation and make sure that you have the tools to avoid dead-end deals and find the products that will pay you, and the environment, back for your commitment to energy efficiency.
First, what to buy? Looking out for the ENERGY STAR label is a given to ensure your products are high quality and energy efficient, but there are opportunities to push things further. For products such as TVs, computer monitors, refrigerators, or clothes washers, try to find products with the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient logo; the Most Efficient products set efficiency levels beyond ENERGY STAR and offer consumers even greater savings on their energy bills.
For those who like to research purchases in advance, check out TopTenUSA.org, which exhibits the top 10 most efficient products within each product category, ranging from electronics to appliances, and to lighting. If you’re in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, you’ll find a customized version of the TopTen USA website to help you identify which stores in your state carry the listed products and how you can get connected with rebates offered beyond the Black Friday discounts.
Sometimes the most efficient option is only in a premium product, such as the ENERGY STAR Emerging Technology Award-winning efficient dryer. However, efficiency programs in Vermont and Long Island are offering rebates on the product, and when combined with black Friday promotions, the price of this high-end product quickly becomes comparable to standard models.
Some other tips to keep in mind as you fill up your shopping carts:
- Before you shop, visit your local efficiency program or utility website to see what rebates exist for any appliance or electronic purchase. Typically you can access this information through a “member services” gateway, and look out for the keywords “efficiency” and “rebates.”
- From an efficiency perspective, a desktop uses more energy than a laptop, and a tablet uses even less. Think about what you and your family needs when selecting a device.
- Think about investing in a digital media receiver “over the top” device that allows streaming to your television—these are generally much more efficient than set-top boxes or streaming content using a game console (which is VERY inefficient).
- If a major television purchase is in your future, think about going to OLED. This new technology comes at a premium price, offers amazing visuals, is comparable to that of a plasma TV, but with only a fraction of the energy use.
- Game consoles! With the brand new XboxOne and Playstation4, the efficiency world is figuring out how much energy they really use. At present, the WiiU is the only game console that meets ENERGY STAR’s recognition criteria and represents the biggest gaming energy savings.
- Another efficient entertainment development is the soundbar, which can replace an entire home entertainment sound system with one low-energy device. Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label to ensure maximizing energy savings.
- With any of these devices, don’t forget to pick up an Advanced Power Strip to go with them. These devices will help your electronics in a home office or home theater save even more, and in many states are available with a rebate. Check out this guide for assistance in choosing the right one for your needs.
- Finally, if you’re feeling ambitious, think about investing in a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) that could connect your home and allow remote control of your various plug loads.
NEEP’s regional strategy for electronics can help give more information and data on the energy use of any of these devices. The most important thing to remember when it comes to new purchases is less (energy) is more (savings for you, the climate, the world).