Happy New Year (well, almost)! You’ll recall that earlier in 2012 I offered up brief reviews of a handful of sustainable tech products, and promised the occasional roundup. The end of the year seems like the perfect time to recap a couple of the most interesting “green tech” products of 2012, in case you’re looking for some great gift ideas.
Meet the Car of the Year
If you’re looking for a gift for me, might I suggest the winner of the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year Award, the Tesla Model S all-electric vehicle. This marks the very first time in the award’s 64-year history that the winner didn’t feature an internal combustion engine! But that’s hardly the only reason that it won. Motor Trend touts the Model S as one of the quickest–if not the quickest – four-door cars ever. The magazine also raves about its design and engineering, comparing it to a super model on a Paris runway. Me-ow! But unlike the other hybrid and electric cars on the market, the Model S is clearly in the luxury class, starting at a budget-straining $49,900 after the $7,500 federal tax credit is applied. (And yes, I’m aware that the S is very affordable compared to their other two models and many other luxury cars.) Here’s hoping that Tesla’s electric cars follow the pricing pattern of other products in the Silicon Valley region, with the price lowered as demand increases and the cost of parts produced at scale decreases. Until then, I’ll look forward to seeing one in my driveway with a big gift bow attached, thank you very much.
I’ve never been a believer that consumers will turn off all their electronic devices when not in use. From a convenience standpoint, it simply makes more sense to leave certain gadgets and electronics powered up (cable modems and wireless routers, for example). Belkin, perhaps best known for its line of accessories for iOS devices, offers excellent energy-saving solutions – an entire line of energy-saving plugs, surge protectors and other gadgets grouped under the Conserve brand. The surge protectors offer a couple of outlets that aren’t switched off when the other six are. So you can completely power down your computer, printer, scanner, and other peripherals, while leaving the aforementioned cable modems and wireless routers powered up so you can get online with your smartphone and tablet. Or, you can power down your entire home A/V system except your cable box, so your channel guide display is uninterrupted, you can continue to receive messages, and the scheduled recordings to your DVR won’t be interrupted. Belkin even offers a remote control to turn the surge protector on and off, so you can keep it behind the desk or otherwise out of sight. Talk about convenience.
From big-ticket items (like all-electric luxury cars) to seemingly mundane – but important – products (like surge protectors), it’s exciting to see sustainability continuing to infuse tech products released in the U.S. While these products overcome key energy efficiency behavior change challenges, companies should remain focused on affordability, quality, and convenience to ensure market adoption. I’m looking forward to what 2013 has in store.