About the author: Maura Cantor Beard joined EPA in 1992 and currently works with the ENERGY STAR program.
Like so many of us, I love the holiday season. Perhaps my greatest joy is the time spent with family and friends. But with relatives spread from coast to coast, it can feel like a logistical circus act trying to get everyone from here to there with a good place to stay. And I can’t help but think about how all this travel impacts the environment. But there is good news – with help from ENERGY STAR, I’ve found a new way for my family to help protect the environment while on the road this holiday season by staying in ENERGY STAR qualified hotels.
Just like the ENERGY STAR qualified TV on your holiday shopping list, you can find hotels that have earned the ENERGY STAR. These hotels use 40 percent less energy and emit 35 percent fewer greenhouse gases; all without you lifting a finger.
But once my family is checked in and our bags are unpacked, our job’s not finished. Many of the things I do to save energy at home and in my office can also be done when I’m staying at a hotel. For example, I always turn off the lights when I leave my room. When I’m in the room, I open the curtains to take advantage of natural light. I also unplug my cell phone and iPod once they are charged, since they still draw energy even if they are not charging. If I know I’m going to be gone for a while, I’ll set the thermostat to an energy-saving setting so it doesn’t heat or cool the room while I’m gone. And when my son “unpacks” by throwing his clothes on top of the air vents, I remind him that it will take as much as 25% more energy to condition the room when the vents are blocked. Remember, it’s the little actions that, when combined, can have a big impact in our fight against global climate change.
Find hotels that have earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR. If you can’t find one in your area, keep checking back with us as ENERGY STAR hotels are added every day. You could even check out internet travel search engines and search for ENERGY STAR qualified hotels along with other green travel options.