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(BPT) - Each year, many people count down the days to the holiday season and save their money for festive decorations and gift giving. In fact, the average American will spend over $1,000 on holiday gifts, according to the <a href="https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/consumers-will-spend-41-percent-more-last-year-during-winter-holidays" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National Retail Federation</a>.
But before you start checking gifts off your list, consider going green this year. The best gifts not only have the latest features and styles, they also save energy and protect the environment. It's a gift that gives back to your loved ones and the planet.
Many of the latest models of your favorite gadgets have earned the ENERGY STAR label, meaning they are independently certified to save energy and money and protect the environment. You can find TVs, laptops, tablets, speakers, soundbars and more with this certification — something for everyone on your list. Look for ENERGY STAR on electronics while you’re out holiday shopping.
Appliances might not be the most flashy or exciting gifts around, but if they are ENERGY STAR certified, they’re gifts that keep on giving. Certified appliances use less energy and water, saving money on utility bills with every use. Treat your loved ones with the convenience of a new refrigerator, washer, dryer or dishwasher.
As temperatures drop, your heating bill is on the rise. For the average American household, almost half of the annual energy bill goes to heating and cooling — more than $900 a year.
If you’re concerned about your energy usage this winter, an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat can help you stay warm without breaking the bank. And those energy savings add up to a greener planet. If everyone used an energy-efficient certified smart thermostat, savings would grow to 56 trillion BTUs of energy and $740 million per year, offsetting 13 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Candy and socks are common stocking stuffers, but how about something unique this year? Give your friends and family something they really need. ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs last over 13 years with typical use and save nearly $55 in electricity costs in that time. LED light bulbs are available in warm to cool white light, so your gift can help set the mood in any room. You can also find energy-efficient light fixtures that come with LED light sources integrated right into their design that use up to 90 percent less energy.
Creative wrapping paper
Materials used to make gift wrapping paper are often not accepted for recycling, especially if it’s dyed, laminated or contains non-paper additives like glitter or plastics. Get creative when wrapping presents this year with old fabric, maps, sheet music, magazines or newspapers. You can even use baking pans or festive reusable tins.
What do you get that friend or family member who has everything? That’s easy.
Donate to a charity or service organization that they support in their name. For example, donate to a local organization that promotes environmental research or conservation. Your gift could also include a promise to volunteer with an organization.
Follow this guide to green-up your holiday gifting. For more earth-friendly holiday gift ideas, visit <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/holiday" target="_blank" rel="noopener">energystar.gov/holiday</a>.