Hardware

Photos: 15 gadgets to reduce your energy consumption

nPower Personal Energy Generator

Earth Day is April 22, so it's a great time to take a step back and look at your personal energy consumption. Tech tools are often energy hogs, so we've compiled a list of the gadgets that do just the opposite.

Our first gadget is the nPower Personal Energy Generator (PEG), a $130 charger that uses body movement to charge devices. Place it upright in your bag, and go about your daily business. Later, plug in your smartphone or other electronic device and it will begin charging. It can also charge with a USB port. Once the internal battery is fully charged, it holds it for 100 days sitting still. If it is moving around, it can stay charged even longer. If your phone is dead, shaking the PEG for 10 minutes will generate enough energy to make a short call.

Image: nPower

About

Lyndsey Gilpin is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She writes about the people behind some of tech's most creative innovations and in-depth features on innovation and sustainability.

19 comments
Dasec
Dasec

Nice, but really all 'Yuppie' toys

ilovesards
ilovesards

wwwweeeelllll.  I like the idea of an alarm clock.


1999= I bought  an SR5  talking clock. I can set it to auto snooze every 10minutes (between 1minute to 60minutes).  three sound choices =choho , cck crow and beep.


it goes this way

-tingggg...

its  ...(alarm time)...chocho chocho... (repeats for one minute) , goes to snooze if  you don't tap the head).


-if you tap the head at any time= speaks the current time(no need to open eyes and blurry see the time=sleepy yet ).

-the case was soooo big  that I changed triple A battery to  3pcs size D( original whole thing could fit in 2incthick by half inch wide).

- I bought  10pcs  as gifts .


-since then, I never found any alarm clock like it. my note1 tells me once only(then snoozes) =if you miss what it says, wake and scramble to see the time.


this is the way we go HIGH TECH .

wrchis
wrchis

Cute toys, though the controller ones like that smart socket probably use as much energy as they "save" although some like the sprinkler one save in other ways that would be worth it.  


The various generator ones are interesting though pricey.  I have seen other devices, many DIY, that turn bike generators into sufficiently regulated power sources for charging devices but the convenience of being able to simply buy one instead of putting time into building one should have some appeal to the health conscious busy person who would like to charge their phone or whatever on their bike ride.  The jostle generator is likewise a nice thing and would probably encourage more movement on the part of the user at least until the novelty wore off.  The wind one and various solar ones would  not promote even a tiny amount of fitness on the part of the user (except maybe by getting them out of the house) but any energy source that keeps batteries out of landfills and reduces fossil fuel use by even the tiniest amount is a good thing over time.  


The problem with all of these generators and solar power systems and whatnot though is that those who can afford them do not really need them and those who need them the most usually cannot afford them so they will probably remain toys and simply fade away unless some effort is made to reduce the cost of them or some other technological breakthrough comes along which incidentally lowers the cost as a side effect which historically has been a long time to come about if it ever does.


Opportunistic energy systems built into devices that can flexibly extract energy from the environment in various ways to help cut the cord and allow them work in the field longer is the wave of the future.  The question is whether there will be enough early adopters of the various technologies to spur development and get the wave here sooner rather than later.   


The bamboo stuff would at least save plastic which in turn would might save some of the dwindling supply of fossil fuels by using a very fast replenishing organic resource instead, if the energy used to shape it comes from something besides that fossil fuel.  Using green "cottage factory" facilities like the water powered ones that once existed along the Middle Rouge in Michigan comes to mind for something like that, and it would be good for both the environment and the local economy though it is unlikely to happen.


On another note, I have to agree with the others who have mentioned the problem with the new format for this site:  while it looks nice and is a neat idea it has a very nasty usability flaw and having to copy the address from Firefox (the browser I use most often) and bring up Chrome just to use it is very annoying. 


TRgscratch
TRgscratch

Ha-ha!  "cloud-based sprinkler system"  I get it!

inet32
inet32

C'mon Lyndsey, don't feed us this kind of baloney!   A "water powered clock" that uses "ions" in the water for electricity?  No doubt it's a chemical battery with water just a participant in the chemical reaction.   When the copper or zinc or whatever they're using is consumed the clock goes in the landfill. 


And then there's the bamboo speaker.  Really?  With bamboo magnet, voice coil, wires, and electronics?  


Or how about the $80 LED light that produces 120 lumens?   Any hardware store can sell you an LED bulb for $30 that produces 800 lumens.

Other posters have pointed out further nonsense in this article.   Really, Lyndsey, the people who read Tech Republic are mostly techies and engineers  - we're not as stupid and gullible as you seem to think.


Robert.S.Mathis
Robert.S.Mathis

I agree with Dimitri and gke565. Ever since the new format of TechRepublic, i can only see the first image of the so-called slide shows. This is with either IE or Firefox.


PLEASE FIX IT.

gke565
gke565

I'm with Dimitri - sure would be nice if Tech Republic would write their webpages to support browsers other than chrome tracker.  On IE11 W8.1, slides don't work, and pages tend to act funny, and most buttons don't work - like login.  Silly I have to put into compatibility mode.

hiraghm
hiraghm

Thanks for the list of gadgets to avoid. Now how about a list if 15 really cool tech gadgets that eat a ton of energy while doing really cool things?


I don't observe the religious holiday of "Earth Day"; I instead prefer to celebrate "Human Achievement Day".


hunter
hunter

I also have a Current Cost Envi Home Energy Monitor.   Only took a few minutes to install and we have been using it for over a year.  This device paid for itself in the 1st 3 months by making some adjustments and finding ghost loads and illuminating them.  I can check it before I go to bed and tell if something was left on.

Does not have  the inherent problems or install difficulties that the TED does.  Trade off is fewer features, but I just wanted something that worked.


http://www.currentcost.com/product-envir.html

Ontario Canada
Ontario Canada

Great and interesting collection of gadgets. Thanks.

hunter
hunter

I use a RainMachine for my some irrigation.  It is cheaper than the Cyper-Rain and works better.  Shows you the daily water savings.  My water bill during the summer can exceed $300 so a 10% to 40% savings adds up fast

http://www.rainmachine.com/



GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

This is mostly baloney, sliced and sandwich-ready. Few of these devices actually save any significant amount of energy. Real energy savings come from systematically turning off lights, appliances, and various devices when not being used.

If you want to use rechargeable batteries, buy a high-quality charger (such as a Maha) and high-capacity cells. (Please note that the annual use of alkaline cells is closer to 15 billion, not million.)

semoore
semoore

Very frustrating in this day and age that TechRepublic can't build a slideshow or web page that works with Safari on OS X. The slideshow does not work and neither does the Log In feature, which means you can't post comments. Use Chrome or Firefox instead.

I did get confirmation from them:


On Apr 8, 2014, at 1:16 PM, support.techrepublic@cbsinteractive.com wrote:


Thank you for your email,


We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.


This is a known issue and we are working hard to get it resolved for our customers. 


Once the issue has been resolved you will see the changes reflected on your end. 


Regards, 

Tech Republic Support Team 

© CBS Interactive, all rights reserved.

dimitri
dimitri

The system for cycling trough the different photo's always acts up and seems to behave randomly.

Any pointers to get this fixed are welcome. Using Safari 7.0.3 on Mavericks


bsalloum
bsalloum

Maybe sustainable for the environment but certainly not for my wallet!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Sure, you can get an 800-lumen LED lamp for less than half the cost of the  Phillips Bloom.  That $30 lamp also comes with none of the features.

The headline says gadgets to reduce your energy consumption. As a techie, I'm wondering how an 800-lumen LED lamp will consume less energy than a 120-lumen lamp.

viveka
viveka

@Robert.S.Mathis

+1 .  Maybe their next paper/blog will be shortage of QA skills and then followed by lack of design specs :-)

inet32
inet32

@NickNielsen You can buy a 120 lumen lamp for an even tinier fraction of her price.    LEDs are inherently more energy efficient than alternatives like CFLs and incandescent.  But it's unclear why she picked the most expensive energy efficient device she could find  to illustrate her article.


Really, much of the stuff in this article is just yuppie fluff.

dogknees
dogknees

@NickNielsen  Lumens is not consumption. If one is 10% efficient and the other is 90% it's pretty easy to see savings.