Green gadgets for the home
There's no question that green gifts are in. Help your loved ones save money and the planet at the same time.
Energy use auditor: Kill A Watt meter
Mention an energy audit this time of year and most people think about leaky doors and windows. But electrical appliances can also leak energy -- even when turned off. P3 International's Kill A Watt P4400 meter (US$40) can help you audit your household electrical devices so you can find the energy hogs and take action.
The results may surprise you. After using the device in my own home office I made changes that cut my electricity usage by 75%.
The Kill A Watt sits in between the power outlet and the device you want to monitor. A small LCD displays power consumption in watts as well as cumulative power use in kilowatt-hours -- the unit of measure that appears on your utility bill. For the more technically inclined, it also measures and displays current volts, amperes, hertz and volt amps at the touch of a button.
If you know your cost per kilowatt-hour for electricity (listed on your electric bill), you can quickly calculate exactly how much you're spending on each appliance.
Summary: The Kill A Watt tracks the load and power consumption over time for any 110-volt device you attach to it.
Robert L. Mitchell
Desk lamp: Personal Lighting System LED
It's as cool as Pixar's famous hopping desk lamp, but more svelte, modern and efficient. Finelite Inc.'s ultrasleek Personal Lighting System LED desk lamp lets you go green and look good doing it.
This lamp uses state-of-the-art LED technology to do in 9 watts what your garden-variety incandescent desk lamp achieves in 100. The PLS uses half the power of fluorescents, doesn't contain any mercury, and it does the job better.
Substantial amounts of light in radiant lighting sources such as incandescent and fluorescent lamps miss the target, so they tend to bathe an entire area, overlighting the target surface and creating glare that can be tiring. LED lighting, on the other hand, is highly directional, which means a surface can be illuminated to the right degree using fewer watts of power.
With its spring-loaded swivel base and a cast-aluminum lamp head that spins 360 degrees, the PLS is highly maneuverable. It comes in 3-, 6- and 9-watt models. I recommend the 9-watt model as a desktop work light. The PLS produces a warmer, more natural light than some models I've tried, which tilt more toward the blue end of the spectrum.
At US$283, the PLS 9 is one of life's little extravagances that you might never buy for yourself, but as a gift it just might be a perfect fit.
Summary: This stylish LED desk lamp, which uses just 9 watts of energy, is less harsh and easier on the eyes than a standard 100-watt incandescent fixture.
Robert L. Mitchell