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Earth Day 2020: The Greenest Day of the Year

Earth Day 2020 (April 22) has arrived. While it’ll never eclipse Christmas, Memorial Day, Easter or Labor Day in popularity, it’s no trifling event, either. By some estimates, this celebration of our planet’s splendor is observed by more than 1 billion people spread across 192 countries worldwide. That staggering number makes Earth Day 2020 the most celebrated occasion on our planet.

At GVEC, we always look forward to Earth Day. It’s the perfect time for a conservation-and-efficiency-minded energy cooperative to spread the word about saving energy and generating less waste.

Positive Environmental Impact Starts Individually

You might be thinking, “I’m just one person—one household. How much of a positive impact can I have on the environment? How much of a difference can I really make?”

More than you think—quite a bit, actually. Positive change starts at the individual and household level, spreading from there into communities, cities, regions, states, countries and continents. If we all commit as individuals to making a positive difference for the planet, the results can accumulate into epic proportions.

Here, we’re focusing on five tech-related steps you can take to make a positive impact on the planet for Earth Day 2020. Some of these suggestions may seem small, but remember: Big impact starts with small, individual measures.

Turn Electronics all the way Off

Even when they’re turned “off,” most modern electronics use electricity if plugged in. Known as “phantom draw,” powered-off electricity consumption can have a significant impact on your bill and on grid-wide energy use. At GVEC, we call such devices “energy vampires” and recommend unplugging them completely when not in use. The best way to completely power electronics down is to plug multiple devices into a single power strip and cut power to the strip when you leave home or go to bed at night.

Drive Greener

Mass consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EV) is predicted to happen relatively fast—probably sooner than many readers suspect: These vehicles are projected to make up half of all sold by 2040. Even now, prices are coming down, and if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, we highly recommend considering an all-electric model or a hybrid that runs, in part, on stored power from an onboard battery. Such vehicles are not only greener than their internal combustion engine counterparts, but they also tend to be loaded with the latest technologies. Driving electric isn’t only environmentally responsible, then—it’s also a great option for modern style and convenience.

Choose Smarter Devices Wherever You Can

From thermostats to home security devices, appliances, cars and even light switches, the list of modern electronics with built-in smarts and internet connectivity is vastly expanding. These “internet of things” conveniences featuring greater precision than ever before possible in consumer electronics, and they do more than simply make life easier. They also feature razor-precise ability to monitor and adjust their own energy consumption and, in some cases, even to communicate with the grid and adjust power levels based on time-of-day and/or current demand levels. We recommend replacing old devices with modern connected ones wherever possible and applicable.

Why not start with a learning thermostat from GVEC Home? We feature two Nest® models, the ecobee® SmartThermostat and more. These thermostats can help reduce your energy bill and maintain a more consistent comfort level in your home, while having a significant impact on your overall energy footprint. Mother Earth will thank you.

Go for LED Lighting

Although LEDs have existed a long time, the technology didn’t scale up to a level suitable for widespread adoption until within the last 15-25 years. These bulbs are a vast improvement over those based on incandescent technology, which generate far more heat than light and last much less longer. These days, LEDs bulbs are relatively affordable (though still more expensive than incandescents), plus they last much longer and, most importantly for Mother Earth—and for your wallet—use significantly less electricity. We suggest upgrading to LED lighting anywhere and everywhere possible in and around your home and office.

Recycle Old Electronics

A number of technology companies offer consumer incentives for the recycling of old devices—Amazon, Apple and Sprint are just a few. Other companies, including Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and others, offer options for consumers to drop off old devices to brick-and-mortar locations.

ecoATM, meanwhile, is a relatively new company with a nationwide network of kiosks located inside brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, Kroger, HEB and others. Consumers can deposit their old devices directly into ecoATM kiosks and receive instant recycling cash.

Another great way to make sure old electronics don’t end up in landfills is to give them to nonprofit organizations. Such organizations—including Goodwill, local senior groups, schools and others—will help old tech find its way to people who’ll get plenty of use from it.

It’s important to note, too, that Texas law requires television- and computer-equipment makers to offer consumers methods to recycle old electronic devices. If you’ve got an old TV or piece of computer equipment you no longer need, contact the manufacturer about recycling options.

How does recycling old electronics positively impact the earth? For starters, almost every modern rechargeable device runs on lithium-ion batteries. These batteries contain toxic, flammable chemicals that can easily cause a fire if not safety discarded. Lithium-ion batteries should never be thrown away with regular trash—they present a great environmental hazard if disposed of in landfills. Additionally, computers, handheld devices and appliances routinely include toxic chemicals that can harm to the planet if thrown into a landfill.

Opt for Renewable at Home

Not long ago, solar energy was too expensive for average consumers and even for most businesses. Costs have dropped dramatically in the last decade or so and are now competitive with and sometimes even cheaper than traditional power-generating technologies. That’s why we suggest that you consider going solar through GVEC for Earth Day 2020.

We offer two solar power options. The first is our rooftop or ground-mounted solar panel systems. Since we began selling these systems in 2012, the technology behind the product has improved significantly, even as costs have continued decreasing. We’ve been installing every system we sell since 2017, too, creating a start-to-finish customer experience. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day 2020 than with a new solar panel system. For more information, call GVEC Home at 855.898.8807 or visit gvecsolarservice.com.

If don’t want to buy panels but are interested in solar energy and are a GVEC member, we also offer the GVEC SunHub Community Solar program. Comprised of 6,500 solar panels, GVEC’s SunHub Generation Station is the Cooperative’s first renewable generation asset. It can generate up to two megawatts of electricity, translating into four million kilowatt-hours of renewable power annually. With SunHub, you don’t need to buy or rent any equipment. You only need to be a GVEC member. For more information on SunHub or to participate, call at 800.223.4832 or visit our SunHub page at gvec.org.

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