Ten Easy Ways to be Green for the Holidays

Even the most die-hard environmentalists can find it difficult to go the extra green mile during the holidays. There are so many gifts to find and non-green things to do! But don’t pout or shout. Just check out REC Solar’s 10 easy ways to be green for the holidays.

Even the most die-hard environmentalists can find it difficult to go the extra green mile during the holidays. There are so many gifts to find and non-green things to do! But don’t pout or shout. Just check out REC Solar’s 10 easy ways to be green for the holidays.

  1. Instead of cards, send e-vite holiday invitations. Although paper invitations are lovely, they add to the depletion of our forests. A quick and easy solution is to use an electronic invitation service, such as e-vite.com. Not only does it save trees, their designs can be very festive, plus help you keep track of RSVPs. Facebook has a similar free “events” app, as well.
  2. Use LED Christmas lights. Be a Scrooge with electricity. Buy super energy efficient LED Christmas lights. While more expensive than incandescent versions, their price keeps declining, and that includes indoor and outdoor Christmas strands. Plus, they last longer than incandescent bulbs, saving you time and frustration from replacing the bulbs every couple of years.
  3. Turn off Christmas lights during the day. Whatever type of lights you use, turn off the string during the day. With a flick of an off-switch, you’ll be saving energy and delighting passing neighbors when you turn the lights on again. Your kids will also enjoy their turn switching them on each evening for a holiday light show.
  4. Give low-waste experience gifts. Instead of driving around finding the perfect manufactured gift, take a few minutes and buy concert or movie tickets online. Or buy a membership to a museum or a season pass to a national park, zoo, or an aquarium. Experience gifts reduce manufacturing waste and landfills, plus they can provide lasting memories for the entire year.
  5. Choose gifts that encourage sustainability. Give rechargeable batteries with a battery-powered gift, and stuff stockings with refillable thermoses and water bottles. For those daily trips to Starbucks, save paper by giving friends travel or ceramic mugs. Choose mugs with a sealable lid, so the beverage will stay hot and won’t have to be reheated in the office microwave.
  6. Instead of presents, give your presence as a gift. Elderly friends and family have collected many things in their lives, but what they often want more than anything else is to spend more time with people they care about. Give a card with a commitment of a weekly or monthly appointment. Plus, it’s another experience gift that will be remembered way past the holidays.
  7. Recycle—or grow— that Christmas tree. If you have a live-cut Christmas tree, check with your local city for a drop-off tree recycling center. If you can’t find it, search “Christmas Trees” at Earth911.com. Another sustainable Christmas tree solution is to buy a potted tree that you can keep in your garden year round. Trim it for height throughout the year, and then bring it in once a year to decorate.
  8. Buy rechargeable batteries. According to the EPA, 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season, and many of these and subsequent battery purchases end up in landfills, adding toxic waste. Think long-term for the environment and save money too by buying rechargeable batteries. If you do use traditional batteries, search Earth911.com for an authorized disposal center in your area.
  9. Pick one shopping day. Rather than multiple trips, save time, money, gasoline, and CO2 emissions by going to your main shopping district on one day during the holiday season. Research gifts online and then plan your gift-buying trip close to your holiday, since stores will begin to discount undersold products by then. If possible, buy all of your gifts online for in-store pickup, saving you even more time.
  10. Be creative with old wrapping paper. If you thought ahead and recycled wrapping paper from last year’s gifts, good for you! If not, be creative and look for other inventive recycling ways to wrap gifts. For example, use the colorful Sunday comics sections from your local newspaper. Or take out pages from the toy section of the Yellow Pages book that you’re probably not using. For women’s gifts, try using pages from old fashion magazines that have already been read.

Of course, you can always get a solar power quote for your business. That’s a terrific gift for the holidays, for your utility bills, and for world.

 

Top 4 Reasons Why REC Solar Loves our Hometown of San Luis Obispo

REC Solar installs commercial solar accross the United States plus Puerto Rico, but our headquarters has
always been in the beautiful central California coastal town of San Luis Obispo on Fiero Lane, just off Broad Street. Why do we love San Luis Obispo so much? Here are our four top reasons:

REC Solar installs commercial solar accross the United States plus Puerto Rico, but our headquarters has rec_solar_top-4-reasons-why-rec-solar-loves-our-hometown-of-san-luis-obispo
always been in the beautiful central California coastal town of San Luis Obispo on Fiero Lane, just off Broad Street. Why do we love San Luis Obispo so much? Here are our four top reasons:

1) REC Solar’s Roots Are in San Luis Obispo

REC Solar’s SLO roots have been tied to its two co-founders, Judy Ledford and Fred Sisson, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with the goal of making solar systems a mainstream energy source for home owners. Since its founding in 1997, REC Solar has expanded to installing solar throughout California and other states, but we’ve always kept San Luis Obispo as our hometown.

2) San Luis Obispo Reflects REC Solar’s Values

From the Thursday night farmers market and street fair on Higuera Street, to the walk-friendly sidewalks and miles of bike routes, San Luis Obispo reflects REC Solar’s values for balance, sustainability, and being environmental stewards of the world.

The city limits housing growth to 1% a year and purchases open space in order to minimize suburban sprawl and create more public spaces. As a result, San Luis Obispo is filled with parks, hiking trails, and wildlife preserves. And that brings us to reason number three:

3) San Luis Obispo Is a Great Place to Live and Work

REC Solar employees not only work in San Luis Obispo, but also live here and in the surrounding areas of Paso Robles, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Harmony and Cambria. Between REC Solar and our sister companies AEE Solar and SnapNrack PV Mounting Systems, we have about 200 employees in the greater San Luis Obispo area. So, our growth and success helps contribute to the local SLO economy. We also set aside time to educate the community about solar at local schools and other SLO events throughout the year.

4) San Luis Obispo Is a Great Place to Go Solar

You need sun to go solar, and as SLO residents know, San Luis Obispo has plenty of it. In fact, on June 20th, the longest day of the year, San Luis Obispo received 14.5 hours of daylight, and on the shortest day, it received a little less than 10 hours. On average, the area gets about 5.5 hours of sunshine a day, which ample light for producing clean solar energy and reducing SLO residents’ utility bills. Over the last 15 years, REC Solar is proud to have helped over 1,000 SLO homeowners to install solar on their roofs, and we’ve also installed solar at local wineries, such as Alban Vineyards, as well as other local businesses.

We could go on about how we love San Luis Obispo for its beaches, golf courses, gourmet food, and so much more, but the bottom line is that REC Solar loves being a part of SLO’s community, and we genuinely want to help all of our hometown businesses to find out if solar is right for them. So, we hope you’ll contact us for any solar questions you have. With commercial solar installations around the U.S., REC Solar will continue its founders’ vision of making solar a mainstream and affordable energy source in San Luis Obispo and the surrounding area.

 

Solar Powered Cars Race 1800 Miles through Australia on Sunshine

Yes, the world has Tesla and the Nissan Leaf, but those cars are only electric cars that run off batteries charged by the grid. But what if a car could drive 1800 miles on pure solar power? They already can.

Yes, the world has Tesla and the Nissan Leaf, but those cars are only electric cars that run off batteries charged by the grid. But what if a car could drive 1800 miles on pure solar power? They already can.

Although they’re not at your local Ford dealer, solar electric cars have been around for decades. To encourage and promote the development of these vehicles, university students from around the world have competed in the Solar World Challenge, a solar electric vehicle car race that drives custom engineered solar EVs 3000 kilometers (1864 miles) through Australia. The mostly flat route travels from the northern city of Darwin, Australia down to Adelaide in the south.

To keep the competition fair, those who enter the Solar World Challenge have to abide by several strict rules. They can charge up from the grid at the starting point of the race, but that’s it. Once they’re off, only solar power can charge the electric motor and onboard batteries. In addition, there are numerous required technical specifications to keep the competition on a level playing field and safe for the drivers.

2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Like regular cars that are categorized as sports cars and family sedans, the Solar World Challenge has two different main competition classes:

The Challenger Class is essentially the Formula One of solar cars. Each car is designed primarily for efficiency rather than comfort or practicality, and also like Formula One cars, the challenger class solar cars have one seat for a single driver who weighs 180lbs or more.

However, the Cruiser Class has no weight limitation. These solar cars are the closest to what we might see on the street in the future. Aerodynamic, but designed primarily for practicality, solar cruisers can carry two or more occupants and are judged on external energy use, the time taken to complete the course, payload carried, and practicality.

How fast are these solar race cars? They’re not Ferraris, but they’ve been known to break the Australian speed limit in previous races, getting close to 70 mph. As a result, race rules were altered to slow things down and ensure driver safety. In 2013, the average speed of the winning Nuon Solar Team from Delft University of Technology team was around 90 km/hr, (56 mph).

In terms of distance, the race rules allow cars to travel between 8am and 5pm, so within that time, the Nuon team traveled around 400 miles per day, and would have gone longer without the race’s 8am to 5pm limits. To see some these solar race cars and race highlights, check out the final episode of the official Solar World Challenge news team:

While all of these solar cars look cool, there are a number of practical limitations that are preventing us all from driving around in solar EVs in the near future.

First is the safety issue. Every country has its own crash and safety standards, which are ultimately heavy and expensive additions to any solar car design. Reinforced bumpers, air bags, and frame construction will all have to be added in order to be a true passenger car vehicle. (Today, solar cars are often classified as motorcycles.)

Then there are the usual car features that we all have come to love, like air conditioning, power windows, power steering, etc. All of those features are expensive and add weight, slowing a solar car down and draining the batteries faster. Plus, solar powered recharging will of course be limited at night and on cloudy days.

To address these issues, battery technology and solar technology will have to improve—and they will—but not for some time.

What is a safe and affordable reality today is commercial solar carport for your business. Unlike solar cars, solar carports are increasingly part of parking lots across the U.S., serving the neeeds of consumers switching to EV’s and plug-in vehicles. Contact REC Solar and find out how a commercial solar installation or carport can benefit your business, EV fleet, or industrial facility.

 

REC Solar and the Switch Energy Project

REC Solar is excited to be part of the SwitchEnergy Project, and its new film, which is screening from the U.S. to Australia this summer.

REC Solar is excited to be part of the Switch Energy Project, and its new film, which is screening from the U.S. to Australia this summer.

Below is the project’s full, 13-minute online interview with Laviziano, who discusses solar adoption and the cost savings associated with making the switch to photovoltaic power.

 

Dr. Anerview two years ago. “These days it just makes economic sense for our commercial as well as our residential customers.”

Today, REC Solar has installed more than 10,000 residential systems nationwide, as well as 160 megawatts of commercial solar and utility-scale solar throughout the U.S. and its territories – with 50 megawatts of solar power coming online in the past year alone.

As for the final edited film, and where you can watch it, here is a list of screenings in the U.S. and abroad. The film is also available for purchase on Amazon and rent on Netflix.

Additionally, below is a trailer for the film, which has been seen by more than 3 million viewers in theaters and classrooms around the world.