Energy Efficiency / Giveaways

Green Your Decor Energy Gauntlet, Week 4 (+Giveaway)


A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the Sylvania Earth Day Challenge, 40 for the Future. If you haven’t yet, head over to the challenge website and take a look at the small changes we can all make that will save up to 40 million Kwh of energy between now and Earth Day. Then make your pledge! If all of us work together, we can put a big dent in our monthly energy usage. It’s really eye-opening how small, simple changes can have such a tremendous impact!

The Energy Gauntlet

I have challenged myself and all of you to go around your home and do a room by room assessment. How many items do you leave plugged in all the time? What do you leave turned on that you could easily turn off or unplug? This week, I’ll let you know where I’ve improved from last week, and show you were I still have room to improve. I’d love for you to do the same in the comments section! Then every week, we’ll check in again to see if and how we have improved. More readers are participating in the Energy Gauntlet, and we’re seeing some improvements, so I’d love to hear from more of you! Scroll down to find out what you could win in this giveaway! Every reader who participates will get an entry to win for each week that you comment.

Here’s the current state of things at my house. We moved into our new apartment a few weeks ago, and had achieved a state of “normalcy” as of last week. But then we got our cable and internet installed and I admit I feel like we’re right back at the beginning. You’ll see what I mean with this week’s list:

Living Room

  • Lamp (main light source)
  • NOTE: Our TV, Wii, DVD player and cable box are all plugged into a smart strip. What this means is that whenever we turn the TV off, that automatically cuts power to all the peripherals and shuts off the power strip.

Dining Room


Laundry Room

  • Washer & Dryer


  • Stove
  • Fridge
  • Microwave (built-in)

Home Office/Studio

  • Speakers
  • Mac desktop
  • External hard drive

NOTE: They are all plugged in to a surge protector, which we have begun turning off at night. Now we just have to keep that up…

Daughter’s Bedroom

  • TV & cable box (we’ve begun turning off the surge protector when she’s not watching it, and she almost never does)
  • Lamp (main light source)
  • LED Nightlight

Master Bedroom

  • TV & DVD player
  • Cable box
  • Internet modem
  • 2 lamps (main light source)

The cable boxes and modem have made it pretty clear that we need to get those smart strips. While we will probably want the modem to stay plugged in all the time, we’ll definitely want to cut power to the other electronics. Because I’ll admit it’s a bit of a pain remembering to turn the regular surge protectors on and off. I’ve had a few moments when I couldn’t figure out why the computer wouldn’t turn on, only to remember that the surge protector was turned off. Next Wednesday, I’ll check in with you and let you know how we’re doing (hopefully better), and I can’t wait to see what improvements you’ve made! The final check-in will be on Wednesday, April 21. I hope a lot of you will choose to join me on this journey!


Ready to find out what you can win if you participate in the Green Your Decor Energy Gauntlet? An awesome green home prize package! The winner will receive:


  • ActiveIon Pro: This is an awesome little machine that allows you to clean and sanitize your home with nothing but cold tap water. I’m not kidding. I was skeptical of this description at first too, but I have been using my own ActiveIon Pro for months, and I love it! It’s a funny-looking piece of machinery, but I use it to clean my kitchen counters and stove, and even splatter from the walls. It’s great for hard surfaces in the bathroom as well. So how exactly does it work? It’s a tough process to explain, but basically, the ActiveIon ionizes the water, which allows you to clean and sanitize without any cleaning products. Bill Nye the Science guy can explain it better than I can. It doesn’t get much greener than cleaning with just water! You can read more about it here. Value: $299!
  • A smart strip: These power strips come with a control jack. You can plug your TV, computer, or any other major appliance into this port. Then when you turn off said appliance, it will cut power to the entire strip, simultaneously turning off anything else that’s plugged into it and reducing your use of ghost power. This is particularly useful when you have lots of peripherals like DVD players, video game consoles, printers, etc. Note: The image above is an example of the type of strip you will receive. The one you actually get may differ, but will serve exactly the same purpose. Value: $30
  • Energy efficient light bulbs: You’ll receive two 2-packs of Sylvania’s brand new SUPERSAVER Halogen bulbs and two 2-packs of their Living Spaces CFLs

If that doesn’t give you a boost in making your home greener, I don’t know what will! And I may still add more to the prize package, so be sure to enter every week! The more people who participate, the more likely I’ll be to make the giveaway even bigger and better, and I’m even considering some stylish green decor items! For each week that you check in, you will receive an entry, for a maximum of 5 entries (since noone entered during the first week). For your entries to count, you must:

  • Tell me what you did to participate in the Sylvania 40 for the Future Challenge (You only have to do this once. Subsequent entries can include just your list of the following:)
  • List all the items in your home that are plugged in all the time, and show an effort to reduce your energy usage each week. In other words, the point is that you have fewer items plugged in during the last week than you did during the first week.

The giveaway entry period starts today and will continue through Wednesday, April 21 at 11:59 p.m. The winner, who will be randomly selected from all entries, will be announced on Earth Day, April 22. U.S. mailing addresses only!

I hope all of you are as excited about this as I am, because it really has the potential to improve the energy efficiency of all our homes. I can’t wait to read all your entries!

(sponsored opportunity): Full disclosure: I am being compensated by Sylvania for my time in participating in and promoting the 40 for the Future Challenge. And anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn’t participate if I didn’t believe it was truly an opportunity to make a difference, however small.

About Author

I am a graphic designer by trade who has a strong passion for interior design and doing what we can to protect the environment. This blog and my other site, Green & Gorgeous, are my ways of giving back to the Earth.


  • Marci
    April 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Tell me what you did to participate in the Sylvania 40 for the Future Challenge: I changed light bulbs today!, dried dishes on air dry with dishwasher, unplugged non used electric plugs, use warm and cold water in washing machine, use low flow showerhead.

    List all the items in your home that are plugged in all the time, and show an effort to reduce your energy usage each week: 4 TVs, 3 computers, 6 lamps, toaster, coffee pot, coffee grinder, pencil shaperner, Washer and Dryer, Fridge, Freezer, Baby Monitor, 1 pod charger, 2 phone chargers, pond heater, curling iron, and shaver.

    I have now unplugged the pencil sharpener, 2 tvs, and the pond heater.

    Is it week 4 already?????

    I found a couple of more things that were plugged in that don’t need to be. Postage Scale, radio, weight scale, and one printer that isn’t used. I unplugged all those and will only plug them in on a need to use basis.

    I have used ONLY reusuable bags at the grocery store and even get a small refund everytime I do….Yipee!

  • Joanna R
    April 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    we changed our 20-yer old appliances with new energy efficient ones. our electricity bill started to go down. we bought CFLs for all the rooms and unplugged everything that we don’t use: TV, DVD player, chargers.
    things plugged in all the time: refrigerator, microwave. we started to unplug the computers until the batteries are almost dead and only then we start to charge them again.

  • Tomi
    April 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I took Sylvania 40 for the Future Challenge and unplugged the Xbox at night. I also unplugged the cell phone chargers, we rarely used \’em anyway – most times we charge the phones in our cars.

    The TVs and kitchen appliances are the only thing plugged in ALL the time. Small steps add up!

    Good luck everyone!


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