Or is it?
Maybe energy efficient products are more readily available than ever before. Maybe they are similar, if not the same in price, as the other everyday items that accompany them on store shelves. Maybe there’s even a return on investment, as savings compile due to efficiency and the life of a given product.
Well, we tested it out. Combining a little research, and a trip to Walmart, we were able to get a true sense of just how well energy efficient products stack up in comparison to traditional choices. We decided to hunt down six everyday items to help you “go green.” Here’s the list:
Light bulbs are frequently brought up in regards to energy efficiency (and with good reason). The range of options available to consumers make light bulbs a tough purchase. Branding and packaging can add to the clutter. Walking into Walmart, we immediately noticed the range of options. To simplify the process, here’s a breakdown of the three most common household light sources.
Incandescent bulbs have been used since the days of Thomas Edison, and they remain the most popular bulb because of their upfront cost. While they remain cheaper than CFL and LED bulbs on the shelf, incandescent bulbs simply don’t stack up all things considered. Take a look at this chart that depicts the overall cost of each bulb type over a 25,000-hour lifespan (about 17 years at four hours per day).
|Cost per bulb||$1||$2||$8|
|Average lifespan||1,200 hours||8,000 hours||25,000 hours|
|Bulbs needed for 25,000 hours of use||21||3||1|
|Price of bulbs over 17 years||$21||$6||$8|
|Cost of electricity over 17 years||$180||$42||$30|
|Total cost over 17 years||$201||$48||$38|
Not only have modern LEDs become more affordable, but they’re also the best environmental option. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, potentially harmful to health and the environment, and incandescents use a large amount energy during their short lifespan. LEDs mean you’ll be taking less unnecessary trips to the store, you’ll have a cheaper electric bill and you’ll be choosing the environmentally friendly option. It’s best to think long-term when considering light bulbs, and you’ll be thanking yourself later for going with LEDs. That is if you even remember that replacing light bulbs was once a thing you had to do.
Computer and television screens have become such a major part of our lives that it is natural to leave them on all the time. You can save yourself money by simply shutting off your TV or switching your computer to sleep mode, but you can also do so strolling through Walmart’s electronics department. Pay keen attention to monitors that are ENERGY STAR-certified, which follow strict energy efficiency guidelines determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Walmart carries a plethora of brands from HP to Sony. While largely dependent on your personal needs, whether that be a 60-inch screen to entertain guests or adding a second screen to your laptop, we liked what we saw from Acer. Many of their products are designed for energy efficient performance, including technology that reduces backlight with minimum impact on the display, saving up to 33 percent more energy than your typical laptop. This increases the system efficiency, reducing power consumption and boosting battery life by up to 40 percent.
The company has also cutback on the amount of packaging materials included with its products, reducing the amount of trees and fuel used, and therefore reducing CO2 emissions.
Have you ever found yourself indecisively pacing back and forth down the razor aisle? Choices can vary greatly in price, from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, as well as type, e.g. electric or disposable. While there is a science behind the greenest way to shave, minimizing your use of water and shaving cream are the best, most consistent ways to be efficient. Thus, shaving in the shower is a big no-no. If you aren’t the type to always need a close shave, we suggest a mid-level electric razor. They often last a few years, reduce use of shaving cream and can be easily recharged. Their ease of use, combined with little energy consumption, make an electric razor the way to go. A pack of disposables, for when a close-shave is absolutely necessary, will last a long period of time and reduce your footprint.
Finding little ways to conserve water can lead to big energy savings. Considering showers account for about 17 perfect of water heater use, it is essential to upgrade to an energy efficient shower head. The gallons of water you save per year can easily creep into the thousands, as several shower head upgrades lead to even bigger returns. On average, you can save about $60 a year by making the change, enough to power your home for 10-13 days. There’s plenty of shower heads at Walmart that are a third of that price.
The Walmart we stopped at had about 20 different shower heads to choose from. While most are in the $20-$30 range, there were outliers on both the high and low end. No matter the price or the brand, make an energy efficient shower head one of your first couple of purchases on this list. It makes complete sense to invest $20 in a product that will triple your investment in the first year alone.
As much as conservation is an issue, energy loss is as big of an issue. Why put all of this work in it to have it escape out of your windows and doors? Finding seals and stripping to combat this problem can be done at a relatively low cost and a short amount of time. It’s key to choose products that can withstand friction, weather changes and general wear and tear. You’ll want to use caulk for stationary gaps and cracks. Stripping is best for perimeters of doors and windows that are frequently opened and closed.
Finding caulk and draft seals was relatively easy, as they were both located near one another in the Home Improvement section. We found that Duck Brand offers a great variety of products to deal with drafts in all parts of your home. Purchasing the Double Draft Seal, as pictured on the left, retains room temperature with seals on both sides of a door. Its also easy to install on all floor types and works on both interior and exterior doors.
Most homes lose about 10 to 25 percent of their heat through windows and doors. Combining a couple of Duck’s Double Draft Seals with GE’s Silicon Window & Door will once again lower your monthly bills.
It’s no secret that heating and cooling are responsible for a good portion (about 46 percent) of a home’s energy use. This makes controlling and monitoring your thermostat vital in keeping your bill down. Decreasing the set temperature by a single degree in the winter or increasing it by a degree in the summer typically results in 3 percent savings. Those savings can multiply by programming your thermostat in accordance with your lifestyle. For example, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. when no one is home. In a sense, this is nothing new, simply be conservative with your heating and cooling if you want to save money.
What’s causing that BIG energy bill?
But it’s more than just what you do with your thermostat, it’s about purchasing the right one at the store. With the rise of digital thermostats and Apple ready to jump in the mix, the market is getting crowded. Price is largely dependent on customization and control. We have entered a time where a thermostat can detect whether or not someone is in room and base its habits off of that. Those type of features obviously result in a more expensive thermostat, though that money will be slowly recouped over time.
At Walmart, we were able to find this programmable Honeywell Thermostat for about $25. Though there is a wider selection of thermostats on Walmart’s online store than what we found in this physical location, this thermostat offers a few features that can save you money. The 5-2 program let’s you separate weekdays from the weekend, each with four program periods per day. It’s ease of use can save you up to 33 percent on heating and cooling.
Walmart’s Sustainability Goals
Walmart is making a difference in the products they sell and overall how they run their business. It’s no secret that consumer demands have pushed for more environmentally friendly products, and Walmart has certainly answered the call. Now with a Sustainability Leaders section on their website, you can easily find what products and companies are making the necessary push. This is on top of their goal of 100% renewable energy and creating a zero waste culture in their stores. Now let’s get shopping.