Energy Star, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is suggesting that you can choose gifts that are green in more ways than one. With Energy Star-labeled products, you are helping someone save money on their energy bill and protect the environment by fighting climate change.

In fact, the typical homeowner can save more than 30 percent, or about $700 on annual energy bills with Energy Star-labeled products. EPA has identified a few products to keep your eye out for as you start holiday shopping:

•Televisions. They are now up to 30 percent more energy efficient than standard models and use less energy when they are on, off, or in standby.

•Computers. They use up to 50 percent less energy than conventional models, depending on use. And, when you plug in your new computer, make sure its power-management features are enabled.

•Rechargeable tools. Cordless hand vacuums, electric screwdrivers, and universal battery chargers, on average, use 35 percent less energy than conventional models.

• Decorative light strings. Featuring LED technology, they use 75 percent less electricity than conventional incandescent light strings, are available in a variety lengths, colors, shapes and sizes, and are much more durable and shock-resistant than other light strings.

If you're in the process of shopping for a car or light truck this year, EPA can help here, too. Environmentally friendly vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, and there are some simple ways to find the best one for your family. There are also easy ways to improve your fuel economy, regardless of what model you drive.

When shopping for a car, go to EPA's Green Vehicle Guide to look for vehicles that earned EPA's SmartWay designation, meaning that they are among the cleanest, most fuel-efficient available; and as you shop, be sure to maximize your vehicle's fuel efficiency by combining trips, driving gently, and keeping your car well-maintained.

To see the Green Vehicle guide, go to http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles.

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