Upgrading to the latest resource efficient appliances and equipment is a great way to green your home, lower utility bills and minimize your environmental impact. Below you will find several sustainable home products that can bring long-term cost savings and help preserve our resources and planet health. These products were selected based on their certifications, ratings and online reviews.
Energy and Water Efficient Sustainable Home Products
When it comes to sustainable home products, you should be looking for home appliances designed for energy and water efficiency, such as those certified by credible organizations like ENERGY STAR and WaterSense. Here are some of the greenest models of household appliances and equipment on the market today.
Kitchen and Other Household Appliances
With over 120 million households in the U.S., the residential sector accounts for 21% of U.S. total energy consumption. Annually, the average household uses around 77 million British thermal units (Btus) and releases roughly 17,320 lbs of carbon emissions. Here are just a few of the highest rating energy efficient household appliances.
- ENERGY STAR certified Whirlpool 21 cu. ft. Side-by-Side refrigerator uses LED lighting throughout and is at least 15% more energy efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard.
- GE 21.7 cu. ft. manual defrost chest freezer with temperature alarm is ENERGY STAR certified, designed to withstand temperatures from 0ºF to 110ºF, equipped with LED interior lighting and temperature alarm to alert you when the temperature rises.
- ENERGY STAR certified LG Electronics 5.0 cu. ft. Ultra Large Capacity Front Load washing machine utilizes sensors to measure your laundry load before submerging in water and select the most efficient wash cycle. Monitor your laundry via the ThinQ® app.
- ENERGY STAR certified LG 7.4 cu. Ft. stackable electric dryer with FlowSense™ uses Sensor Dry to detect moisture and automatically adjust drying time for loads of all sizes along with FlowSense™ which indicates when ducts are clogged and need to be cleaned. With a 30” depth and 7.4 cu. ft. capacity, this dryer can fit into smaller spaces while still handling large loads.
- Landing a spot on the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient List for 2020, the Samsung 4.0 cu. ft. stackable ventless heat pump electric dryer is one of the most compact options at a whopping 24 inches wide but it still offers many functions such as 12 preset cycles, customizable drying times, and moisture sensing. The downside is that this model is not app controlled.
- 2021 ENERGY STAR Emerging Technology Award winner, the Samsung Smart Induction Cooktop with Wi-Fi is one of the top energy efficient induction stoves with 5-10% greater efficiency than conventional electric cooktops and 3 times greater efficiency than gas cooktops. Induction technology allows for more precise heating with 90% of heat transferring to the cookware. This Samsung model offers an easy-to-clean glass cooktop, Power Boost on all four burners allowing for quick heat generation, digital touch control and Wi-Fi connectivity for real-time feedback, alerts and performance monitoring.
- Wiser Energy Smart Home Monitor connects to your electrical panel and provides real-time energy usage. Use the app to track energy use and savings, set alerts for when devices are left on, and set reduction goals. The Wiser Energy home system is integrated with Alexa, Google Home, Phillips Hue and more.
Low-Flow Water Fixtures
When it comes to water fixtures, look for low-flow products with the WaterSense label. This seal means that the product meets water conservation criteria set by the U.S. EPA and uses no more than 2.0 gallons per minute (GPM).
- According to the EPA, showers account for 17% of indoor water use in the average family home. High Sierra showerheads, recognized by the EPA with the WaterSense Excellence Award in 2016, provide a strong spray, a swivel to adjust direction and a trickle option that conserves water during lathering.
- A more affordable option is the Delta 52672-15-BG Fundamentals Single-Setting Showerhead. Also WaterSense-certified, this model produces a flow rate of 1.5 GPM and offers a simple full body spray setting.
- For sink faucets, check out the Moen 6410 Eva Two-Handle Centerset Bathroom Sink Faucet with a flow rate of 1.2 GPM or Delta’s more affordable Porter 4 in. Centerset Two-Handle Bathroom Faucet, both WaterSense certified products.
- If you want to splurge on a touchless faucet, look at the Kohler K-13460 VS Sculpted Insight DM Faucet. While pricey and requiring batteries to run the sensors, this touchless option has a flow rate of 0.5 GPM.
- Prior to the 1992 Energy Policy Act, toilets used 3.5 or more gallons per flush (GPF). Today, thanks to the latest flushing technology, toilets consume 1.28 GPF or less. There is a diverse array of WaterSense certified toilet models including the simple, ceramic TOTO Ultramax II One-Piece Toilet Set, the best low-flow TOTO Drake II 1G Two-Piece Toilet with 1.0 GPF, the American Standard H2Option Siphonic Dual Flush, and the BioBidet Prodigy Smart Toilet with heated seats, several different warm wash functions, heated air dry, and 0.9 GPF for small flushes and 1.2 GPF for large flushes.
Water-Efficient Irrigation Systems
Sustainable home products also apply to yard maintenance. According to the EPA, residential outdoor water use accounts for roughly 8 billion gallons of water each day, most of it used towards landscape irrigation. As much as 50% is lost due to overwatering caused by inefficiencies in the method of irrigation and the equipment.
WaterSense offers two types of water-efficient irrigation controllers: weather-based and soil moisture-based. Weather-based irrigation controllers (WBICs) use local weather data and landscape conditions to determine the amount, frequency and timing of irrigation. Soil moisture-based irrigation controllers, also called Soil Moisture Sensors (SMSs), monitor moisture levels in the surrounding soil, preventing overwatering when plants don’t need it.
Compared to the standard clock-based irrigation controllers, WBICs and SMSs are more accurate in detecting seasonal changes and tailoring irrigation schedules based on these changes. In fact, if every U.S. home replaced their clock-based sprinkler system with a WaterSense controller, up to $4.5 billion in water costs and 390 billion gallons of water could be saved each year.
Here’s a thorough list of WaterSense certified WBICs which you can filter for brand, zone capacity, weather data source (either onsite sensor or local weather signal), and standalone or add-on devices. For a list of WaterSense certified SMSs, click here.
Home automation makes a sustainable lifestyle as easy as inputting your preferred settings and letting the technology handle the rest. Here are key home automation products you should consider.
- Smart thermostats, such as the Google Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control, learn your temperature-adjust habits and schedule, allowing for the most efficient hands-free temperature control. Using remote sensors to detect temperature imbalances, smart thermostats can achieve an even heating and cooling throughout your home as well as turn off the HVAC when you’re away, saving on energy and money.
- Automated lighting can be as earth-friendly as it is aesthetically pleasing. Philips Hue Smart Lighting, for example, is a line of LED automated lighting that displays fantastic, mood-setting gradients of white light or color, all while saving up to 80% of energy use compared to incandescent bulbs. Controlled via the Hue phone app, voice control or smart switches, you can set the lights to turn on or off based on your schedule. Available in bulbs, lamps, pendants and even outdoor lightning, Philips Hue offers convenience and ambience to every part of your home. Philips offers an online energy calculator for consumers to figure out just how much energy they use.
- For outside lighting and security, consider the Ring Smart Lighting System which allows you to create a network of motion-based security lights by adding whichever components you prefer – floodlights, pathway lights, step lights, etc. Most Ring lighting components are battery powered and work independently as a motion-sensor light. To activate smart features and control your system via voice command or the Ring app, you must connect all components with the Ring Bridge. Ring also offers a completely wireless security camera, the Ring Stick Up Cam, with 1080p video quality, a built-in siren and Amazon Alexa voice command capability. The Stick Up Cam comes with a free basic plan that gives you motion alerts and live on-demand video, but you’ll have to pay for a subscription if you want to view recorded video.
- The Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera is another high rated wireless security camera that offers 2K video, color night vision, and highly intelligent motion detection that casts a bright spotlight on whatever is roaming in your yard.
- The iRobot Roomba s9+ can handle a 1,500 sq. ft. home on a single charge, empties its own dustbin and was designed with intelligent mapping capabilities to avoid obstacles. It’s also quieter than previous Roomba models. Another high scoring and much more affordable robotic vacuum is the Eufy RoboVac 15C, optimized for hard-to-get pet hair and equipped with a huge dustbin, meaning less emptying. The Eufy is controlled via remote or voice controls and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Home Renewable Energy
For figuring out the best solar roof system to meet your energy needs, refer to EnergySage which allows you to easily compare quotes and system specs from multiple pre-screened solar installers. EnergySage also allows subscribers to speak directly with trained solar advisors to help guide them through the decision making process. EnergySage services and resources are 100% free to use.
Solar Air Conditioning
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), on average, air conditioning represents 12% of U.S. home energy costs, with AC costs peaking at 27% for homes in hot-humid climates. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, AC units and systems generate about 117 million metric tons of CO2 each year.
Investing in a solar-powered AC unit or whole system can offset these emissions. There are some options for solar AC units: direct current (DC), alternating current (AC) and AC/DC hybrid units.
DC solar air conditioners are perfect for off grid purposes because they do not need an inverter in order to use the power generated from the solar panels; however, DC units do require a battery for energy storage. AC solar air conditioners are designed to work with your home’s existing power grid but require an inverter. AC/DC hybrid units use electricity from the power grid to run its fans while power from the solar panels runs the unit’s compressor.
Some reputable brands for solar AC units include:
- Dave Lennox Signature® Collection air conditioners and heat pumps are SunSource® Solar-Ready, meaning they can be upgraded to generate solar energy at the time of installation or in the future.
- Thomas Edison Solar LEZETi AC/DC hybrid units and ThermX Emperor Series ducted HVAC systems
- HotSpot Energy which offers both DC and AC/DC hybrid units, along with solar batteries and individual system components
- YMGI solar single-zone, multi-zone and outdoor HVAC systems
- GREE DC inverter HVAC systems
- Ameresco Solar provides individual solar components such as backup batteries, inverters and more.
Solar Water Heater
- Alternative Energy Technologies offers ENERGY STAR certified complete direct and indirect solar water heaters. Unlike direct solar water heaters where the sun directly heats up and circulates the water contained within, indirect closed-loop systems use a non-freezing liquid to transfer heat from the sun to water in a storage tank. Alternative Energy Technologies sells individual water heater components – solar collectors, tanks, controllers, pumps, etc. – along with solar kits for heated pools.
- For those with a gas water system, look at Rheem SolPak natural gas water heaters. These are indirect systems with 75 gallon capacity and a 6-year warranty.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
An electric vehicle (EV) charging station, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), supplies the electricity to the car battery for storage. EVs come with a standard 120 volt charge cord (known as a Level 1 charger) which can connect to a regular household outlet and generate 4-5 miles per hour of charging.
Charging stations (Level 2 chargers) use a special 240 volt outlet and grant over 2 times faster charging speed than Level 1 chargers. There are several electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that you can purchase online but you first need to consider important features such as:
- Volts, Amps and Kilowatts – Together, these units determine the electricity output and EV charging time. A good rule of thumb is that an output of 30 amps will give you roughly 30 miles of driving per one hour of charging.
- Plug-in versus Hardwired – Plug-in stations connect to a 240 volt wall outlet and are portable, making it convenient for travel or if you’re moving. Hardwired EVSEs are permanently wall mounted and connect to wires from your electrical panel. Hardwired stations are more weather resistant and better suited for outdoor installation.
- Location – Charging stations can be installed both indoors and outdoors. For those who don’t have a garage and must opt for an outdoor installation, review the devices NEMA enclosure ratings. This is criteria set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association on how well the product is protected from external forces such as weather, dust, and corrosive agents.
- Charging Cord Length – Most charging stations come with cords 16 to 25 feet in length.
- Wi-Fi Connectivity and App Control – Some charging stations can be controlled via app, allowing EV drivers to set reminders and schedule charging for when electricity is cheapest.
Finding Certified Sustainable Home Products
As more and more customers are seeking certified sustainable home products that will save them money and align with their eco-conscious mindset, there is a growing number of resources available for finding such products.
ENERGY STAR and WaterSense both make it easy to view and compare product specs including efficiency information; see ENERGY STAR Product Finder and WaterSense Product Search.
EnergySage also offers resources for finding energy efficiency products including portable solar products, EV charging stations, electric lawn mowers and more.
Incentives and Rebate Programs
Many municipalities and utility companies offer rebates to encourage their customers to purchase more sustainable home products and services.
Find efficiency and renewable energy policies and incentives using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). You can also filter your program search by state, program type (tax credit, grant, building code, etc.), technology (energy efficiency, electric vehicle, etc.) among other parameters.
For WaterSense labeled products, use the WaterSense Rebate Finder to see if there are any water-saving rebate programs available in your area. For ENERGY STAR certified products, check out the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder.
Also, contact your utility and energy providers to see if they offer any special incentives for their customers.
There are a growing number of sustainable home products on the market today and investing in just a few can help keep money in your pocket and lower your carbon footprint. Consider the key areas of your home that use the most resources such as your HVAC system, kitchen, laundry and bathroom, and your yard.
If you’re planning to build a sustainable home from the ground up, refer to our article “How to Build and Retrofit a Sustainable Home” which highlights various green building materials and helpful resources for a low-carbon home.