The Benefits of a Solar-Powered Thanksgiving

Bob Farnham | November 25, 2015 | Seasonality

We at JE Solar have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season! Our dedicated team members, our loyal fans, and let’s not forget the big shining star that’s making all the magic happen!

As solar continues on an upward trend in the energy sector, prices are falling, demand is rising, and that means one thing…a cleaner, greener environment for future generations. Not to mention the positive impact the solar industry has had on the economy. According to The Solar Foundation, the solar industry employs nearly 174,000 people in the U.S. alone. With a new solar power system being installed every 2.5 minutes in the U.S., a solar-powered Thanksgiving might soon be the norm.

Let’s take a closer look at the environmental impact of cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving Day with electricity versus solar power. An average of 46 million turkeys are cooked each year in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day. On average, around 26 million of those turkeys are cooked with electricity. With an average of 4 hours cooking time per household per turkey at 8kWh per household, this sums up to nearly $25 million total spent on the electricity used to cook them.

Imagine if all those turkeys were cooked grid-free, via solar power instead? We would significantly lower the amount of carbon emissions and lower costs of our electricity bills. Roasting a turkey in the oven will generate on average 13 pounds of CO2 for one house alone.

Thinking of grilling instead? Burning propane for four hours emits 23 pounds of greenhouse gas.

And how about frying, which seems to be on the trend in recent years? The average outdoor fryer uses as much propane as the grill, but cooks much faster resulting in about 14 pounds of CO2.

The greenest method of all (other than eating a vegetarian meal)? A smoker! If you have the time (about 8 hours is needed to smoke a large turkey), this is the greenest option. Combined with your solar-powered home, you could have the ultimate green Thanksgiving without the high costs and carbon emissions – hot water for dishes, television for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and cooking all those wonderful dishes for your friends and family. Cheaper and greener!

Here are 8 other energy-saving tips for an eco-friendly Thanksgiving:

  • Shopping: bring your own bags! Bring your own bags for carrying your groceries, and for the produce you buy. Instead of grabbing pre-packaged, choose loose fruit and vegetables and put it in your own small bag.
  • Turkey: choose a turkey that is locally and organically raised. Or opt for a veggie-based meal! Animal agriculture accounts for nearly 18% of greenhouse gas emissions (even more than transportation).
  • Thawing: thawing your turkey in the refrigerator consumes extra energy. Try thawing your turkey in cold water (about 30 minutes per pound). Or even better, buy a fresh one!
  • Sides: try to cook your sides in the oven with the turkey to save on oven time. Or if you have a small solar cooker you can cook up to 3 lbs. of veggies, all powered by the sun!
  • Thermostat: turn down the heat. Cooking will warm up the house!
  • Oven: check and see if your oven has a convection feature. It’s energy efficient – and your food will cook quicker!
  • Food Waste: Americans throw away nearly 40% of their food every year, so today try to opt for not piling up your plate. The footprint of food produced and not eaten is equivalent to 3 billion tons of greenhouse gases, making it the 3rd top GHG emitter.
  • Transportation: If you can’t walk or bike this holiday, try to carpool or offset your trip.



Featured image by Olin Gilbert/Flickr


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