10 Top Cleantech Christmas Gifts

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CleanTechnica is largely a consumer-oriented website, so it seemed like we should do one of those “top 10 gifts” thingies. Here’s my shot at 10 top cleantech Christmas gifts (or Hanukkah gifts, Kwanzaa gifts, winter-is-long-and-cold gifts, etc.).

1. Used (or New) Electric Car

White Nissan LEAF

Prices are so ridiculously low on used electric cars that I think they now offer the best value for the money of any type of car on the market. You can legitimately get an electric car for the price of a TV (granted, an expensive TV). Your (or your gift recipient’s) personal preferences and needs (including your budget) are quite important to the specific electric car you’d buy, but here are some figures for popular models (US options):

Nissan LEAF
low price = $6,199 (2013 LEAF)
378 options for $10,000 or less

Chevy Volt
low price = $9,500 (2012 Volt)
261 options for $15,000 or less

BMW i3
low price = $18,400 (2014 i3)
30 options for $23,000 or less
55 options for $25,000 or less

Tesla Model S
low price = $48,000 (2013 Model S x 2)
10 options for $50,000 or less
152 options for $60,000 or less

OK, if I’m going to recommend used electric cars, I should also recommend new electric cars, right? After all, you can get one of these hot models and enjoy fresh new tech (click the name to go to the manufacturer webpage):

2. Electric Folding Bike


An electric folding bike is a great “last mile” vehicle. It can conveniently get you to/from just about any subway, tram/streetcar, light rail, commuter rail, or bus station. It can fold up to go in transit or to sit at work with you. It gives you exercise but also lets you relax if you’re burnt out or just don’t feel like climbing a hill with your thighs.

Of course, an electric bike can also easily cover a full commute or trip to the store most of the time, so you can entirely skip mixing it with other modes.

An electric bike is also quite an affordable option for regular transportation. I’ll let some experienced riders chime in with their preferred models, but the idea came to mind because a CleanTechnica shareholder — founder of GridHub and The Beam — just bought this electric folding bike for a mere $400. (It’s available in the US for $600.)

This category of e-bikes will probably get much more popular in 2017, and you can expect to see better quality at good prices. In China, these e-bikes are already incredibly popular.

(Naturally, you can also skip the folding bit and get a non-folding electric bike if you prefer.)

3. Normal Bicycle

copenhagen-3Photo by elsamu (some rights reserved)

Speaking of bikes, the old-school, human-powered ones are still swell in my book. If you don’t feel any need for an electric boost, maybe just treat yourself (or a loved one) to a new fully muscle-powered bike. The bicycle is one of the simplest yet most useful and efficient tools on the planet.

Luckily, it seems like bikes are one of the most iconic Christmas gifts out there — as they should be.

Don’t ignore the obvious.

4. Rooftop Solar Panels

rooftop solar installer

Here’s another obvious one, but it’s such a prime focus for CleanTechnica that it’s hard to imagine that 100% of you (with the capability) haven’t gone solar already. If you haven’t, just get on it!

With tens of thousands of dollars (in net savings) on the table for millions of people, rooftop solar just seems like a no-brainer. It may not be as fun as driving a Tesla Model S P100D, but it sure makes a lot more financial sense. 🙂

As always, I encourage you to compare solar prices from as many installers as possible.

5. Tesla Powerwall


If you’ve already got solar panels, you sometimes overgenerate electricity, and you live in a good location for this product, a home energy storage system can be a logical next step.

There are a lot of home energy storage systems on the market, but nothing seems to compare cost-wise to the Tesla Powerwall. The initial Tesla Powerwall already seemed to be the best option on the market at launch, and Tesla Powerwall 2 is approximately twice as good!

That said, I still encourage you to examine the other options and cross shop.

6. LEDs!

led-lightsImage via DOE

All of your rooms should have LEDs by now. If they don’t, go treat yourself. 🙂 Here’s a self-auditing tool for upgrading to LEDs in your house so you can learn what you need and get an order bid sent directly to you.

Have an environmentally minded friend or family member who still has incandescents, provide them with an upgrade or two.

I was surprised to learn from Scott recently that even in Hawaii people still often have >20 incandescent bulbs in use around their house! There’s still a lot of room for improvement in the segment that accounts for ~11% of US home electricity consumption.

7. Energy-Efficient Appliance

energy-star-appliancesImage via EnergyStar.gov

If you have an old enough, inefficient enough appliance running, it may well make more environmental and financial sense to send it away and get a new, high-efficiency product.

You can check out tips and specific information related to kitchen applianceshome office/electronics, and laundry appliances via the US Department of Energy. Of course, search for ENERGY STAR labels (more detailed information is here), and be sure you know how to use/read the EnergyGuide label.

If you’re not in the US, note that the UK, the EU, and others have their own rating systems and shopping guides.

8. Smart Thermostat


Your thermostat is a central tool in the efficient management of your home’s heating and cooling — which, on average, account for 22% of home energy usage. Naturally, a smart thermostat can be a fun and highly effective means of strongly cutting that energy use.

There are various smart thermostats on the market these days. We haven’t thoroughly reviewed all of them, so can’t make a strong recommendation on specific options, but a 2015 Navigant Research study ranked the companies behind smart thermostats as follows:


9. Electric Scooter or Motorcycle!

Prefer a vehicle somewhere in between a car and a bicycle? Until the Girfalco Azkarra or Model Sondors is on the market, I think that means an electric scooter or motorcycle. An expert on the motorcycle and scooter genre,  of sister site Gas2 has been publishing lists of the best fuel efficient motorcycles you can buy for a few years (since 2013). Have a look, especially at the 2016 list!



Of course, I wouldn’t settle for anything less than electric, and the new electric motorcycles from Zero look amazing, so I think one of them should be option #1 if you are interested in a motorcycle.

Prices range from $8,500 to $16,000 (MSRP). Zero also notes that the federal tax credit for zero-emission motorcycles ends on December 31, offering up to $2,500 in savings. Better jump on an electric motorcycle quickly if you want to take advantage of that!


I’ve ridden a handful of fun electric scooters, but think I’d have to recommend the GenZe 2.0 in this segment — if you have $3000 to spare. (You have probably noticed GenZe electric scooters in San Francisco if you’ve been in the city recently.)

Note that you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive an electric scooter like the GenZe on US roads.

10. The Beam!


Our friends over at The Beam have been putting together a wonderful new cleantech magazine that features interviews with top cleantech leaders from big business, startups, government, nonprofits, and academia. I highly recommend it.

You can get two copies of The Beam for €20. The team notes that, “for every subscriber, we send The Beam to a cafe and reach around 100 people in each of them.”

Or you can just grab one copy for €10.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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