Three More Easy Earth Day Upgrades

Earth Day 2017 is just around the corner. Originally celebrated mainly on college campuses in the United States in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated by more than a billion people in nearly 200 countries, making it the world’s largest secular holiday. Held annually on April 22, Earth Day events demonstrate support of environmental protection and awareness of the environmental issues that the world faces today.

Earth Day 2017With this important holiday coming up this weekend, it’s a good time to take a look at the environmental benefits provided by the smart grid and smart grid-enabled products and services and a few easy ways that you reduce your energy consumption. Last year, we covered three easy upgrades here, so with Earth Day 2017 coming up in just a few days, let’s check out three new Earth Day upgrades you can consider this year.

1. Rethink renewables

Electricity generation accounts for more than a third of U.S. global warming-related emissions, but there’s good news: renewables are on the rise! If it’s been some time since you’ve looked into renewable energy resources, like wind or solar, it may be time to look again. As a consumer, it’s never been easier to access solar or wind energy – there are numerous options to fit your budget and lifestyle and tools to help you find what works best.

One such tool is Google’s Project Sunroof, an interactive resource that will show you whether your home has enough sun exposure for solar panels to be a viable, cost-effective energy source. Powered by Google Earth, the tool provides you with a personalized solar analysis based on your average electric bill and then provides the recommended number of solar panels for your home, a comparison of purchase options for your solar panels based on your results and a list of local solar installers and ask for estimates from your top choices.

However, adding solar panels to your roof is far from the only option you have. Community solar, where the solar panels are located not on your roof but nearby and are shared with your neighbors who have also opted in to the program, is booming, and electric utilities across the country are investing heavily in their own solar projects. Many utilities are also offering pricing plans where a percentage or all of the energy used by the consumer comes from renewable energy resources, allowing you to support the growth of renewable energy without a significant upfront investment.

2. Maximize your energy efficiency with smart home tech

Like the smartphone in your pocket or the Fitbit on your wrist, WiFi-connected products are powerful tools can make your life easier, and one next big step forward for this type of “smart” technology is into our homes.

Transitioning to a smarter home can improve your control over every aspect of how your house operates. While smart home technology can add to the comfort, security and accessibility of your home, saving money on energy efficiency is one of the greatest benefits you can realize by setting up a smart home.

This technology allows your appliances to work with the least amount of energy needed. For example, WiFi-connected, smart thermostats lower household energy usage by adjusting heating and cooling away from peak demand hours, finding the most efficient means to keep your home comfortable. Smart thermostats can also save energy by recognizing when you’re away as to not consume unnecessary amounts of energy while out of the house. With heating and air conditioning taking up almost half of the average household’s energy use, it’s no surprise that a smart thermostat is one of the most popular and economical smart home gadgets.

For other examples of smart home technology, check out our list of 5 Smart Home Gadgets for Smarter Energy Consumption.

3. Go shopping through your utility

Since we now know that improving energy efficiency around your home is one of the simplest ways to reduce your environmental impact, you may be considering purchasing your smart home technology or energy-efficient lighting. If so, look no further than your electric utility.

In recent years, several utilities, including Georgia Power, Xcel Energy and ComEd, have begun offering e-commerce platforms to customers not unlike the digital experiences they’re already familiar with through Amazon, Zappos and other online retailers. Instead of everything “from A to Z”, these online storefronts are one-stop shops for your home energy needs.

With special discounts and rebates regularly available, these online marketplaces help consumers max out their energy efficiency while not breaking the bank. For example, if you're a customer of Commonwealth Edison, a utility based in Chicago, you can currently purchase a six-pack of 60-watt-equivalent LED light bulbs for only $12 – or $2 a piece – after factoring in the immediate $24 rebate.

Happy Earth Day 2017! If you’re looking for more tips on keeping both your home energy costs and carbon footprint down, be sure to check out Timing Is Everything: 3 Tips for Shifting Energy Usage.

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