Just One Thing: Green Your Battery Charger

Photo: Just One Thing: Green Your Chargers: You can help the environment by using solar energy to charge your batteries.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 230 million products in use in American homes and business require that their batteries be charged, and those chargers can pull much more energy than is actually stored in the battery.

About 95 percent of the energy drawn by each charging device is wasted, costing you money and releasing greenhouse gases into the air.

The U.S. Department of Energy said the average American household spends about $1,400 per year on energy bills -- about 10 percent of which goes for charging electronics.

VIDEO: Novothink Surge products use solar energy to power chargers.
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The EPA says converting to more energy-efficient battery chargers could save Americans more than $100 million a year.

You can start saving by using solar chargers -- which harness free energy from the sun -- to power your household devices.

Solar charges may be used inside your home or outdoors, and during power outages after storms.

PowerFilm solar chargers

PowerFilm makes two chargers, a rollable solar charger and a foldable solar charger. Originally developed for the military, the waterproof solar chargers can provide up to 12 volts of electricity for a range of devices, including laptops, cell phones, bilge pumps and car batteries.

Designed to allow for easy packing, the charger will work in cloudy conditions, and will run a laptop for about 30 minutes on one hour of stored sunlight.

Each charger costs about $99.95.

Click here to learn more about the PowerFilm chargers.

Solio Hybrid 1000

The Solio H1000 is a compact charging device that has a powerful solar panel and battery. The charger can be used to power up cell phones, MP3 players and game players, Bluetooth devices and GPS units. The H1000's battery can store energy for up to a year.

One hour of sunlight powers 15 minutes of cell phone talk, or 40 minutes of MP3 music playback, but a complete solar charge is equal either to a double-charge for cell phones or 20 hours of music playback.

The H1000 costs about $79.95.

Click here to learn more about the H1000.

Novothink Surge

The Surge is the first Apple-approved solar charger, and it's made for the iPod. Novothink also makes a solar charger for the iPhone.

The charger has a solar panel on the back of its case. Users can put the charger into the sun and attach it to their device. If it's not sunny, the Surge can also be charged with a USB cable.

The Surge stores power in its own internal battery. Two hours of sunlight will provide 30 minutes of iPhone 3G talk or listening time, and 60 minutes of similar time on the iPhone 2G.

Click here to learn more about the Surge.

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