The Greenest Gadgets

Save money—and the planet—with these smart new technologies.

March 4, 2016
green gadgets

1. Nest Learning Thermostat

nest learning thermostat
Matt Rainey

Introduced in 2011, the Nest turned an ugly tan box into a smart fashion statement; since then, it has saved more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours of energy worldwide. The third-generation model, unveiled last fall, is slimmer, with a bigger display that now lights up (with the time or temperature) when someone enters the room. While the system remains controllable via a mobile device (crank up the heat when you’re 15 minutes from home), it has a new diagnostic feature called Furnace Heads-Up, which notifies you if your forced-air heating system is on the fritz. $249;


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2. Solpro Helios Smart

solpro helios smart
Matt Rainey

Get off the grid to power up your phone with this clever and stylish charger. It’s roughly the size of an iPhone 6 (and weighs about ½ pound) but unfolds to reveal three thin solar panels that can fully charge a standard smartphone in about 90 minutes in decent light. Its lithium battery can collect enough juice in 5 hours to power three phones or tablets and is engineered to recognize and charge small batteries in wearable devices, too. In a pinch (or the dark), you can power the Helios’s internal battery from a computer or electrical outlet with a mini USB cord. $119; 

3. Stack Downlight

stack downlight
Matt Rainey


This may be the world’s most intelligent lightbulb. From a company cofounded by a former Tesla employee, the bulb sports sensors that can detect when you enter or leave a room, respond to changing light conditions, and adjust levels and color tones to optimize your environment (and save energy). At maximum brightness, the Downlight throws about as much light as a conventional 60-watt bulb but only draws 13 watts—and with its responsive features, it will use up to 50 percent less energy than equivalent LED lights, Stack says. The bulbs, which started shipping last December, aren’t cheap, but Stack says they’ll last 24 years if used 4 hours a day. $60/bulb;

4. House of Marley Liberate BT

house of marley liberate bluetooth
Matt Rainey

It’s easy to feel good about channeling the spirit of Bob Marley through this Bluetooth portable speaker. The compact unit (it’s roughly 2 by 3 by 9 inches) is built out of bamboo, recycled metal, and a patented fabric called Rewind, woven from a blend of hemp, organic cotton, and recycled plastic. Part of the proceeds go to the Marley family charity 1Love, which supports grassroots community causes all over the world. $99;


5. Big Ass Solutions Haiku Ceiling Fan with SenseME

big ass solutions haiku ceiling fan
Matt Rainey

Despite the silly name, this is a seriously smart fan. The Haiku, which has earned more than 50 international design and technology awards, has built-in Wi-Fi, 39 high-efficiency LED lights, and sensors that monitor motion, temperature, and humidity—so it can change speeds as temperatures drop overnight or as people enter the room. The Kentucky-based manufacturer says the fan, which can be controlled remotely with an iOS or Android app, costs only $5 to operate for a year (typical ceiling fans use 90 to 100 watts of energy; the Haiku uses 2 to 30, depending on settings). Get the model outfitted with Moso bamboo airfoils—it’s sustainable, attractive, and as strong as steel. Starting at $1,045;