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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Save some money (and maybe the planet) with Earth Day gadgets



Earth Day is coming up in a week (April 22) so I thought it would be good to share some gadgets that might help you contribute to the cause.

Save Power

screen_shot_2011-04-15_at_12.35.28_pm.pngBelkin has come out with a line of products called "Conserve," designed to help you eek out extra savings in electrical use to save money and save the planet. The target for these savings is standby power. With so many electronic devices in our home and offices, so many devices we think are off are actually drawing small amounts of power. Cumulatively, those small amounts can amount to a lot over a year. The Conserve line includes the following:

  • Conserve Socket - Use it to automatically shut off power when your electronics are not in use including hair dryers and coffee makers to save energy and prevent fire hazards. Also shuts off lights, fans and heaters to avoid leaving them on indefinitely. Retails for $9.99.
  • Conserve Insight - Find out how much energy your devices really use—including, the cost of operation, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) produced in generating the electricity consumed, and watts. See the true impact to your wallet—and the environment. Plug a major appliance like your refrigerator in for a week and note the amount of energy used and the cost/month. Retails for $29.99
  • Conserve Valet - Most chargers use power as long as they're plugged into the wall—even after you unplug your device. The Conserve Valet Smart USB Charging Station lets you charge all of your mobile devices in one convenient place, and then shuts off power when charged. Retails for $39.99.
  • Conserve Smart AV - Control power to your whole entertainment system with the push of a button—your TV's power button. Turn off DVD players, VCRs, gaming consoles, receivers, subwoofers and other equipment automatically when you turn off your TV. The Master Outlet senses when your TV is on or off and controls power to five peripheral outlets for your AV components. Two outlets stay on for devices that need continuous power, like DVRs. Retails for $29.99


Belkin estimates a normal household has 40 devices that draw constant power, including computers, home entertainment systems, coffee machines and even curling irons. So an investment in these gadgets could save you some money in the long run.

Save Fuel

Gas prices are soaring once again and we're all looking for ways to save at the pump and use less gas. You've heard all the fuel ecomomy tips before, like keeping your tires inflated properly, driving more slowly and replacing your spark plugs, but how do you know if any of that's working. Some cars have onboard computers to give you fuel economy information but for those that don't, here's a cool gadget.


The EconoDriver from Lemur Monitors is a keychain-sized wireless monitor that provides real time fuel economy feedback. Requiring no tools for installation, it includes a module that you connect to your OBDII port (usually under the dash) to tap into the car's computer. Each time you start driving it creates a detailed TripReport repording your cost per trip, distance traveled and wasted fuel. It also provides a green rating based on your driving style plus cost per mile and miles per dollar calculations. It's compatible with all cars made since 1996. Retails for $79.95.

Use an App

On the iOS platform there are several green-related apps that can help you in observance of Earth Day and beyond. One is iRecycle, which can help you find local green events and makes it easy to find recycling locations dso you can drop-off your old cell phone, cans of paint or motor oil. It also provides access to information and tips from

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Another nice app is GenGreen Tips from the folks at, which suggests way you can decrease the environmental impact of your daily routine in small, but significant ways.

Make a Pledge

If you decide to get some gadgets to help save the planet, for Earth Day and beyond, don't forget to go the Earth Day site and make your pledge as part of the "Billion Acts of Green" campaign. Currently with 96.5 million pledges for things like "I will use both sides of the paper" and "I will turn off the lights when I leave the room," the site encourages contributions to the cause, large and small, even if you didn't buy any gadgets to fulfill your pledge.


[Last modified: Saturday, April 16, 2011 8:42am]


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