Warning: The suggestions in this post might be so overwhelmingly practical you can’t imagine giving them to anyone on your list. Fair enough. However, if you really want to help someone save a little money over the course of the next decade, these gifts may make it to the top of your shopping list.
In July, my husband started visiting LED light bulbs at the hardware store. No purchase is ever made quickly with him. He does research, visits the product, does a little more research, visits the product, does a little more research. I admire his patience and informed decision-making process, but sometimes he needs me to tell him he’s grounded and can’t go and visit the item again unless he’s going to buy it. By August, I had to put an end to the weekly light bulb visitations.
One evening in September, after 20 minutes of staring at his computer screen, he grabbed his keys and told me he was heading out to buy new light bulbs.
He returned with one light bulb. One. He put it in the lamp next to his desk and was very glad to not have to wait for full light the way you have to with CFCs. And, the LED light isn’t yellow like CFC light (although the yellow bulb casing might lead you to believe otherwise) or flickery like a fluorescent, it’s the same as incandescent light. He smiled.
The next week he purchased three. The week after that, he picked up eight.
I’ll admit, I thought his behavior was weird. Rather, I thought his behavior was weird until I looked at our electric bills for September and October in comparison to all of our previous electric bills since we moved.
Changing some of the light bulbs in the house made a noticeable difference in our electric bill. We ended up changing all of the bulbs in our house — and although there was the upfront purchase price of the bulbs, we won’t have to change them for more than a decade (the box says 22.8 years if you run your lights 3 hours an evening, but we run ours 5 to 6 hours in the winter so my guess is 12 to 14 years) and our electric bill savings will completely cover the purchase price of all the bulbs (23 total) in less than three years. Compared to all other light bulbs, this is a huge improvement. Incandescents might be less expensive for the bulb, but because they regularly have to be replaced and ratchet up your electric bill, incandescents end up costing significantly more money over the years. (We saved the old bulbs we removed and will put them back when we take the LEDs with us when we move, since our current home is a rental.)
Because of their higher-than-incandescents price (the Philips Dimmable LED Bulbs are $22 a piece on Amazon), they make terrific gifts because people are hesitant to buy them for themselves (it can be hard to visualize the long-term benefits when looking at the sticker price). You can give someone one or more, and they will start saving money the minute the bulbs are installed. Plus, they’re something you know the person will use and benefit from every single day.
Along these super-practical lines, I also recommend the following items in addition to the Philips Dimmable LED Bulbs (image 1):
- A Motion Sensing Light Socket that turns on the light when you come into a space and turns it off when you leave the space. These are perfect for closets, pantries, and basements with low traffic and where the light is accidentally left on sometimes. In addition to working with LED lights, they also work with compact fluorescents and incandescents. No more wasting money and electricity by accidentally leaving on a light. ($19, image 2)
- Eneloop 1500 NiMH Rechargeable Batteries with a very slow discharge rate. In short, these rechargeable batteries don’t easily deplete when they’re not being used. Plus, they’re environmentally friendly, hold a decent charge for up to 3 years (incredible for rechargeables), and these particular ones are sparkly! ($24 for 8 batteries, image 3)
- A La Crosse Power Battery Charger, which works with NiCad and NiMH rechargeables. Why this particular model is nice is because it can charge, discharge, refresh, and test batteries. Being able to discharge and refresh extends the lives of your rechargeable batteries. It also has specific displays for each battery you’re charging. Again, this battery charger may be a bit more expensive than other rechargers, but since it extends the lives of your batteries, you end up saving money over the long-term. ($45, image 4)
What other high utility, daily use gifts like LED light bulbs and rechargeable batteries are you considering giving this year? Share your super-practical suggestions in the comments.
View the complete 2011 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.