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Do Your Part: High-tech solutions can ease green transition

The Nest thermostat can learn from your family’s heating behavior.
The Nest thermostat can learn from your family’s heating behavior.

We’ve all heard the excuses about going green — it’s too time consuming, too expensive, and just too difficult. Now, some high-tech tools are making it downright easy to be energy-efficient and save money. Do your part to find out which ones you can incorporate into your family’s life to make a powerful impact.

Knowledge is power

It takes a whole lot of energy to run a household. Consider your heating and cooling systems, appliances and electronics. The average single-family household racks up more than $2,000 in energy bills each year. A device called The Energy Detective can monitor the energy your home consumes in real time and the exact amount it’s costing you. The basic model costs around $200. Then, there are free ways to help you see what’s using the most energy at home. compiles information directly from your utility companies and is able to compare your usage to that of some of your neighbors.

Hit the energy hogs

Now that you know how much energy you’re really using, it’s time to hit those energy hogs and hit them hard. I recommend starting with making your heating and cooling systems more efficient. So-called “smart” thermostats are super easy to use. The Nest thermostat is one such device that actually learns from your family’s behavior. It will automatically begin to lower or increase the temperature when you go to bed or leave the house. It even allows you to look at its daily energy use and access the thermostat from your computer or smartphone. There are also other intuitive devices to help you reduce your energy consumption at home. A power strip for sale by Belkin will shut down power going to a series of electronics by simply turning off one of the components. This is a great solution for home offices and entertainment centers.

Put it all together

Then, there are high tech devices to help you put it all together. EnergyHub has a product that works as a command center for your home. You can access all your energy information in one place so you can control your thermostat, your lights, and appliances from a central home location or remotely. General Electric is also rolling out a hub system called the Nucleus that does the same thing and is compatible for homes with smart meters, too.