The way Green Dad looks at it, the best bargains these days can be had on your iPhone or Android device. And while the dealnews apps are tops for finding discounts, I actually mean that there are convenient apps that help you stay green — without having to spend much of it.
Apps are typically cheap (or free), and even though you might have to endure some trial and error to find the right app for the job, when you download "The One," your world gets a little better. We thus present these seven nifty, eco-friendly-themed apps for you to try.
eCalc - Energy Savings for iPhone and Android (free)
Here's an app that lets you figure out how much energy you could save by buying a specific energy efficient product, and what incentives are available for making eco-friendly home improvements. You'll need to register with ANB Systems, though, before you can use this application — and as I found out, it is a process. Still if you can bear to wait, it's nifty to have an app that calculates your potential savings on energy and offers a list of incentives for when you're ready to renovate to make green renovations.
KWH Meter Readings for iPhone ($1.99)
This app is big in the UK and Ireland, having earned rave reviews from the Daily Mail and the Guardian. Just enter your home's electric and gas meter readings and usage, and your costs and savings appear as easy-to-read graphs. You can also use this information to project the cost of upcoming bills and determine when your peak energy consumption times are, and adjust accordingly to save money and power. While the exact app doesn't exist for Android, we found a similar version from KWH called KWHantify (99 cents).
iGrowit for iPhone (99 cents)
What's growing in your garden? That depends on what veggies are in season, and iGrowIt can tell you which to plant at any time of year. It's as simple as tapping the "What can I grow today?" button. This app takes into consideration your GPS location and the current weather for your area. What's more iGrowIt also provides detailed growing instructions, and recipe suggestions for each veggie, when they're ripe. This makes me think that it's too bad hamburgers don't grow on trees.
Off Remote for iPhone (free)
Computers use a lot of energy, and a lot of wasted watts escape when they're not powered down or unplugged. Enter the Off Remote, which allows you to use your iPhone as an on-off switch for your computer. This app is compatible with both PCs and Macs, and has a big added bonus for parents: When Junior refuses to stop watching "Pokemon" reruns on Hulu, you can simply click over his shoulder and the computer turns off. Excuse me while I download this app right now.
Carticipate for iPhone (free)
Got a daily morning commute? This app helps solve the problem of finding carpool participants. Users can coordinate driving plans, carpool, or find and create a ride share plan, which other "carticipants" can view and contact you about. And thanks to mobile media, users can also email, tweet, or post to the Carticipate Facebook page. The one bug with this app is that you'll need to post your ride at least eight hours in advance. But even with that glitch, this is a clever idea that we hope will catch on and provide convenience for those dedicated to carpooling.
GasBuddy - Find Cheap Gas Prices for iPhone and Android (free)
When was the last time you heard the word "free" used in conjunction with "gas"? This app comes from the folks behind the wildly popular Gasbuddy website, and while gasoline usage isn't green in and of itself, you and your carpooling buddies are going to need fuel, right? This app won't lower your consumption, but it will help you save a few bucks at the pump. The Gasbuddy app uses your GPS location to find the lowest gas station prices nearby. Joining Gasbuddy is free, and once you do, you even have the chance win $250 in free gas. Hey, that's as good as liquid gold these days.
Pedometer for iPhone (free)
Walking is not only a great way to exercise, but a great way to travel when weather permits. This handy app measures your walking by steps, distance, calories burned, and more. I think it's more fun to walk when you can put a number behind it — and let's face it, burning calories over fossil fuels is much better for the environment. We again didn't find this exact version in the Android marketplace, but there are several free pedometers available here.
In other news, I just celebrated my first year writing this column, and I want to thank you all for your support and suggestions. Now's a great time to let me know what eco-friendly topics you'd like to know more about. Feel free to contact me with feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Title your email "Reader Suggestion: Green Dad Column," and again, thanks for being so positive: you all put the "friendly" in "eco-friendly."
Front page photo credit: Swedal