Mother Earth Living

Best for Energy Savings

Products to enhance your home’s efficiency and comfort.
By Misty McNally
January/February 2009
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The WattStopper Passive Infrared Wall Switch turns off the lights—and the nagging—by sensing a room’s vacancy after 30 minutes.
Photo Courtesy WattStopper
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The party's over

Tired of nagging the kids (or your spouse) to turn out the lights?  The WattStopper Passive Infrared Wall Switch turns off the lights—and the nagging—by sensing a room’s vacancy after 30 minutes. WattStopper products meet rigid European Union RoHS standards that prohibit hazardous heavy metals and flame retardants. WattStopper founder Jerry Mix’s father created one of the first phosphate-free laundry detergents, and Mix set his sights on reducing energy waste. Now, says spokesperson Joy Null, “the whole company has a culture of helping the environment.” WattStopper even hosted a community green fair at its Santa Clara headquarters. Wattstopper RS-150BA Passive Infrared Wall Switch Vacancy Sensor: $37. (800) 879-8585.

Put a roof on rising energy costs

Gray asphalt roof shingles are like dark pavement in the summer: hot! Met-Tile metal roofs are coated with an Energy Star reflective finish and can significantly reduce cooling costs. Spokesperson Ruth Stevens says Met-Tile metal roofs are made from metal panels with tile-like “steps” that have air pockets underneath. “These create another level of insulation year-round,” she says. “It’s not just a summer thing. Depending on local codes and the roof material, it can go over an existing roof, improving the insulating capabilities even more.” Aluminum and other metals can be infinitely recycled and the Energy Star coating is low-VOC. Custom fabricated and painted; pricing varies. (909) 947-0311.

Hang energy bills out to dry

Your dryer is a major energy hog. You can reduce the pigging out by unplugging it and using a clothesline, but if you’re limited by a small yard, no yard or just don’t like the permanence of a clothesline, consider the Versaline. Simply place the posts in the brackets and extend the lines, then remove the posts for a clothesline vanishing act. Company owner Paul Gay has seen interest in clotheslines surge. “People are fed up with the price of gas, and they’re looking for ways to save money and reduce their carbon footprint,” he says. Plus, he says, hanging out clothes is fun. “When you look back at your childhood, a clothesline is always a positive image. You remember your mother or grandmother hanging clothes out, running through them. How can that be a bad thing?” Versaline Disappearing Clothesline (Broadline): $200. (207) 512-5474.

Everything old is new again

Vintage Hardware developed a line of super energy-efficient vintage light fixtures for historic military row houses in Port Townsend, Washington. Now the company sells about 60 heirloom styles—this gas station pendant would look equally good in a loft or an old farmhouse—all with ballasts adapted to ECF bulbs, which have a wider color spectrum than “curly” CFLs and last six to 10 times longer. “We apply state-of-the-art technology to vintage design,” owner Ken Kelly says. “We get people to go green who might not otherwise.” Vintage Hardware has also developed its first Art Deco fixture for LED lights, which are even lower in energy consumption. Wall Mounted Green Gas Station Light Fixture (item 241-INS-GR): $175. (360) 379-9030.

Thermostat programming 101

Changing thermostat settings used to mean adjusting a simple dial, but the digital age has arrived—much to the frustration of many homeowners. The solution? The EcoConcierge, compatible with most Honeywell digital thermostats, lets you program your thermostat through the Internet with an easy-to-use question-andanswer format: What time do you wake up? What is your normal temperature setting in summer? “According to Honeywell, 80 percent of programmable thermostats are never programmed,” says Don Knasel, one of the In2Networks EcoConcierge founders.  “You’re squinting and cursing…but we’ve turned this into a full computer screen where you take a simple survey.” In addition to saving energy by adjusting the thermostat when you’re asleep or away, you also can add options to monitor sprinkler systems, lighting and security systems. Knasel says the product can pare your energy bill by 33 percent.  In2Networks EcoConcierge: $400 to $600 installed. (801) 685-8778.


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