Tweet 2013 brought about many green tech innovations that helped the sustainability-conscious consumer make the most of products without putting a large strain on the environment or the economy. Green innovation in 2013 led to less energy consumption in homes and businesses, fewer emissions from cars and vehicles and more. And this innovation is not about to slow down in 2014. In fact, experts expect that more and more people, towns/cities and governments will utilize technology to make impactful decisions that help conserve resources and improve the environment. A few of the green tech trends you should expectto see more of in 2014 are: 1. Self-programming household gadgets One big concept that should take off in 2014 with these programmable thermostats is “bring-your-own-thermostat,” according to Green Tech Media. This is an experiment several utilities around the United States are engaging in with customers. Smart thermostat owners “can enroll in peak-use rebate programs.” The programs allow utilities to fine-tune existing temperatures in a customer’s home by alerting thermostat companies. The thermostat companies can adjust temperatures to increase efficiency “so that customers barely notice the temperature difference.” Two popular smart thermostats to look out for in 2014: Nest thermostat – The Nest Learning Thermostat can actually learn about you and program itself around your schedule. It also allows you to control functionality from your smartphone. According to Nest.com, “[t]each it well and the Nest Thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20%.” The thermostat even has an “Auto-AwayTM” feature that will switch the thermostat to an energy-efficient temperature when you’re gone. Google’s “EnergySense” program – The company originally gave up on the idea of smart thermostats two years ago, reports Engadget, but now they’ve picked the project back up again. Purely in the experimental phase, Google has partnered with Mountain View to conduct “a trial of Internet-connected thermostats to help users keep tabs on their energy use and adjust accordingly.” Currently, it’s Google employees who are the “Trusted Testers” and they are giving the service a chance in St. Louis. Pic: Spike Mafford (ThinkStock) 2. Fiber optics Fiber-optic innovation has been around for a while, but 2014 might see a surge in fiber-optic products and services. Fiber optics is a green alternative to traditional coaxial copper wires because it is more energy efficient, it lasts longer and it’s safer because the cables produce less heat. Look out for these fiber-optic products and services to be more prevalent in 2014: Fiber-optic lighting – This user-friendly lighting option is great for homeowners that want to increase efficiency of their indoor and outdoor lighting. Fiber-optic light bulbs work by transmitting “light from a single bulb…[that] can be changed easily whenever it burns out.” The bulb points at the cable, which has tubes of fine plastic fibers that carry light from one end to the other. Therefore, the cables don’t have to carry electricity, so they don’t heat up or pose a fire risk. Fiber-optic Internet – Two popular fiber-optic Internet providers, Google Fiber and Verizon FiOS, have rolled out this super-fast Internet service in various locations throughout the United States. Speeds can reach up to 500 Mbps-1 Gbps in some areas. But it’s not only outrageous speed that makes fiber-optic Internet customers happy. Fiber-optic Internet signals are kept strong over fiber optics, whereas they degrade over copper wires. Therefore, fiber-optic Internet uses less energy, saving money and resources. Here’s a full fiber vs. cable breakdown. LED fiber-optic Christmas trees – 2013 saw a rise in energy-efficient Christmas trees, and experts expect that trend to continue into 2014’s holiday season. According to Prnewswire.com, fiber-optic trees offer a “unique appearance, adjustable lighting levels, reduced risk of fire-related incidents, and possibly the most appealing of them all, lower electric bills.” These trees are green in more ways than one; owners can save “up to ten times as much energy” as they could with traditional trees strung with incandescent lights. 3. Green cars As gas prices continue to go up in the United States and worldwide, more and more consumers are turning to energy-efficient cars that cut down on emissions and simultaneously save them some money. From diesels to hybrids to full on electric vehicles, consumers have options when it comes to sustainable vehicles. Even gas-engine car manufacturers worked throughout 2013 to make more efficient cars to sell in 2014. Here are a few “green” car trends to look out for in 2014 when you’re shopping for a new car: More efficient electric cars – Greencarreports.com gives the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV “the highest EPA combined efficiency rating of any plug-in electric car sold in the U.S. today.” Choose this car and you can expect 119 MPGe (which stands for miles-per-gallon-equivalent). Other electric models, including the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, come in at 115 MPGe and 98 MPGe respectively. The big name in electric cars, Tesla, rates its Model S at 89 MPGe. More power and more options for hybrids – 2014 hybrid models of some of the most popular mid-size sedans on the market now, including the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Toyota Camry, will continue to gain ground. The coming year may see more luxury hybrid models from “European brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen.” More American diesels – And according to Green Car Reports, “they’ll be pricey.” Chevrolet’s 2014 Cruze Diesel is the company’s first GM diesel passenger car since 1986. It will be available to consumers at a base price of $25,810, almost $8,000 more expensive than the gasoline model. Choose an EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee model from Jeep, and you can expect the base price to be more than $11,000 more expensive than the base gasoline version. 2014 will bring more innovation and more reasons to be green throughout the whole year. What are the greenest tech trends you’re looking forward to in the coming year? About the author Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design. You can reach Alexis via @alexiscaffrey or alexiscaffrey.com SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! 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