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Environmentally Conscious Tech to Help You Stay Green

IN THE June 20 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andGoing Green
SECTIONS

by Maria Ramos

Technology often seems at odds with the Earth. Cords from laptop and smartphone chargers devour energy and traditional gas-powered vehicles spout global warming-causing emissions from their exhaust pipes into the air. However, some of the latest technology has in recent years begun to turn that around. As environmentally conscious lifestyles have started to become the norm, people are taking notice and are making it easier to incorporate greener choices in our daily lives. The following are some of them:

The Apple Watch and the HomeKit

going green

The Apple Watch

Apple’s products are always incredibly popular—and for good reason. The Apple Watch was recently released and with it came seemingly revolutionary technology that can connect with virtually anything in your home. The HomeKit, Apple’s home-automation platform, could be the next big stepping stone in “smart” homes—all controlled from your wrist! Say, for instance, that you purchase the Insteon Hub, one of many third-party products designed to work with HomeKit. Using the Hub, you create automatic schedules and manually control all compatible appliances via the Watch app. You can command Siri to “Engage Party Mode,” and the Hub will turn on the porch lamp and turn up the radio. Never again will you pay money and waste energy to heat empty rooms or illuminate silent bedrooms.

Belkin WeMo Home Automation

If you don’t want a brand-name mini-computer strapped to your wrist, however, you can do much the same thing using Belkin WeMo products. The WeMo lineup includes LED bulbs, water sensors, WiFi-connected crock pots, humidifiers, and more, all connected via 3G or 4G WiFi. You control everything through an app—or you make the app control everything. Your crockpot can cook shoulder roast so it’s ready 10 minutes after you arrive home. You save time and energy.

The Zuli Plug

But what if there’s more? What if your home could watch you, respond to you, even learn from you? No child would ever burn her hand on a hot iron again. No television blue screen would drain precious energy. This is the dream of Zuli, and if you have a smartphone and a couple hundred dollars, it’s a dream up for grabs.

smart home apHere’s how Zuli works. Each of your appliances is inserted into a “smart” plug, which plugs into a regular outlet. The SmartSense Presence sensor identifies who and where you are by the particular smartphone in your pocket. If you walk into your home office, the air purifier, lights, and radio all turn on. If your spouse and you switch places, then the temperature changes and the radio turns off.

Smart Thermostat

Alarm.com’s main purpose is to provide innovative security technologies for your home. But one of its latest products can save you money and manage your energy efficiently, all while keeping you and your family comfortable. The Smart Thermostat is easy to use, is able to work on virtually any HVAC system, and even learns about your activities and routine through your security system to adjust as needed. It saves you energy and money on its own!

Heatworks MODEL 1

Electric water heaters are one of the biggest users of energy in most homes according to Duke Energy, and they can take a while to heat up. Unlike ye olde hot water tanks and their resistance heating elements, the Heatworks MODEL 1 on-demand water heater (designed by ISO technology and funded by a KickStarter campaign) directly pumps up the water molecules with energy. It “produces instant, endless hot water while providing up to 40 percent energy savings and 10 percent water savings,” says the manufacturer. One model treats enough water for a typical shower. This saves you precious energy and water that you can’t afford to waste.

With these new innovative and efficient technologies, saving energy, time, and money can be incredibly easy. Your energy bills will be lower, you’ll have time to relax, and most of all, your relationship with the environment will be guilt-free. Times are tough with the possibility of running out of fossil fuels and severe drought in California, but you can personally do your part by making eco-friendly choices and being more mindful in your everyday life.

Maria Ramos is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

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