10 Money-Saving Gadgets That Pay for Themselves

It may seem like a paradox, but sometimes you have to spend a little money to save a lot of green. Investing in just a few little upgrades like energy-efficient lighting, energy usage monitors, and handy kitchen helpers can help shave dollars off your energy and grocery bills. Take a look through this list of smart buys and consider picking one up for your home. Your wallet just may end up thanking you.

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  1. Save with a Surge Protector


    Even if you're diligent about turning off electronics before your leave the house, plugged-in devices still use standby electricity or "vampire power." Stop energy moochers with this remote-controlled smart power strip from Belkin. Control power to your whole computer system with one click, and use the Always-On outlets for electronics that need power all the time, like your router or home phone. Available from Amazon; $39.99.

    Related: Slash Your Electric Bill with 11 Savvy Hacks


  2. Light the Way


    Skip the hassle of wiring and long cords outside and harness the power of the sun instead! These modern solar lights from Ohuhu automatically turn on at night and shut off to charge at dawn. Push the stakes into into the soil, and never worry about them again. Rain and snow are no match for the solar lights' weather-resistant design, so you can leave them up all year long. Available from Amazon; $22.99 for 8 lights.

    Related: Curb Appeal to Steal from 12 Hollywood Homes


  3. Knowledge Is Power


    It goes without saying: You would never get rid of your cell phone simply because it requires electricity to charge its battery. But you might actually think twice about leaving the cell phone charger plugged in all the time, once you understand that doing that actually costs you money. Plug any electronic device into the Save a Watt Phantom Power Indicator, and you can easily see how much wattage it consumes while idle. It may not sound like much, but if you want to cut down your electricity bill, you first need to where dollars are being wasted. Available at Amazon; $24.99.


  4. Hands-Off Approach


    Turn the lights on when you enter a room. Turn the lights off when you exit. It's a golden rule of energy savings, and it couldn't be simpler to follow—in theory. In practice, however, many people end up paying extra to the electricity company for at least some amount of unnecessary lighting. Here's the good news: You can trim that expense with a product like the Lutron Maestro. Leveraging motion-sensor technology, the switch can turn the lights on and off for you, automating your home lighting and saving you energy (and hassle) along the way. Available at Amazon; $29.


  5. Fresher Foods


    Do you ever feel like you buy apples, lettuce, cucumbers, and more, only to find them wilted and ruined after a few days? Cut down on waste and cash spent constantly replacing produce with a Bluapple freshness extender. This handy helper absorbs ethylene gas—which signals produce to ripen—for up to three months, to keep your favorite healthy snacks fresher, longer. Just toss it in with your crisper and be amazed at how much you can save on your grocery runs (up to $600 for a family of four!). Available on Amazon; $11.

    Related: Meet the Next Generation of High-Tech Kitchen Appliances


  6. Money Monitor


    Part of saving money on your energy bill is identifying your high spending habits—which also includes knowing which appliances and electronics are costing you extra. The Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Use Monitor is a simple way to discover how much your TV or microwave really racks up on a yearly or monthly basis, plus it highlights each product’s carbon footprint so you’re aware of how much energy it’s eating. The real money-saver comes from the tracking feature, which observes your device usage over time and projects the dollar impact each has on your electric bill. With the option to set your specific energy rate, and available at a relatively low price point, there’s no reason you shouldn’t grab up one of these go-green gadgets today. Available on Amazon; 34.

    Related: 9 Cutting-Edge Energy-Efficient Appliances


  7. Skip Laundry Day


    Waiting an extra few days before sending your go-to jeans through the wash may seem like a smelly, money-stretching idea—that is, until you Swash. Popping a less-than-fresh clothing item and specially formulated "pod" into this sleek clothing care appliance costs only a fraction of a visit to the dry cleaners, adding up to major savings each year by cutting out cleaners' costs. An even better bonus: Supplementing regular wash loads with a gentle Swash cycle reduces both fading and pilling—keeping your clothes (and you) looking good for even longer. Available at Amazon; $399.

    Related: 7 Smart Ways to Cycle through Laundry Faster


  8. Bright Idea


    Quit kicking yourself for forgetting to turn out the lights when you leave the room—as soon as you screw in a responsive set of Stack light bulbs. This smart lighting solution utilizes occupancy sensors to help clear your conscience, then goes the extra mile to maximize energy savings by automatically adjusting output to a room's natural light (dimming on a sunny afternoon and brightening as the sun sets). While a bit of an investment, the bulbs last a solid 30,000 hours each and save 40 to 60 percent more on your electric bill than standard LED bulbs thanks to the smart sensors. Available at stacklighting.com; starter kit for $150 and $60 per additional bulb.

    Related: 12 Ways Your Home Can Save You Money This Year


  9. Get Fresh


    A fresh bunch of parsley or cilantro doesn't last more than a couple days past grocery shopping day, when stored conventionally. Deprived of moisture, delicate herbs quickly wilt, and when stored laying flat, they can invite rot, wasting your produce in the process. Save your pennies by storing smarter. This herb keeper works like a vase, holding herbs upright in a shallow bath of water until you need them—whether that's two days after the purchase date, or two weeks. Available on Amazon; $22.93.


  10. Charged Up


    You wouldn't power your phone, laptop, or tablet with a one-use battery, would you? Chances are, though, that the cells powering your household electronics, flashlights, and remote controls are only good until the juice runs out. Save money on buying new packs of batteries by investing in a battery charger like this one available on Amazon. By recharging worn out batteries, you can save a bundle—and never run out of batteries again. Available on Amazon; $19.99.


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