Plan for an energy efficient holiday

Being environmentally friendly this holiday season can be tricky.

Saving money and the ozone and being environmentally friendly this holiday season can be tricky.
Calculating how much fuel it took to get a Thanksgiving feast to your plate, checking how much energy Christmas light displays will suck up and estimating how much carbon dioxide will be emitted during holiday travel can give anyone a headache. The following lays out a few simple facts and figures so you can put away the pain medication and get to the fun of the holidays.


Deciding how to get to family or get away for the holidays depends more on geography, time and reliability than environmental considerations for most people. But each method of transit will result in carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists have linked to global warming. Most trains run on electricity generated by diesel fuel, planes use jet fuel or avgas, and cars run on gasoline. The most Earth-friendly travel methods, as outlined by, are:

1. Train (0.45 pounds of CO2/mile)

2. Small Car (0.59 pounds of CO2/mile)

3. Airplane (0.97 pounds of CO2/mile)

4. Medium Car (1.1 pounds of CO2/mile)

5. Sport Utility Vehicle (1.57 pounds of CO2/mile)


Shopping online may seem like a good idea because a person never has to set foot in a car to race around town buying gifts. But remember someone else is doing the traveling for you to get that gift to your doorstep. Whether a gift gets to you by freight, by air or in the back of a truck, it will require fuel.


Stringing up a set of lights is one of the most common Christmas decorations. Consider buying a new box of lights this year with LED bulbs. They come in a variety of styles and colors but use less electricity than regular lights. LED lights also last longer than traditional lights — 50,000 hours compared to 2,000 hours — and are safer because they don’t heat up, according to These lights and others can save even more energy if put on a timer or connected to an energy-saving power strip. Decorations such as real holly and wreaths that use natural materials are also best because they are biodegradable, unlike plastic decor.


Real or fake? This is the question asked by thousands of tree shoppers each Christmas. The jury is still out on which is best. On one hand, 85 percent of artificial trees are shipped all the way from Asia. Real trees in this area can be chopped down on the Grand Mesa. Real trees, however, help offset carbon dioxide emissions and last about a month before dying. The remains can be turned into mulch, while plastic trees sit in a landfill. Also, trees that use PVC pipe can be a source of lead or dioxins. Pesticides are frequently a part of growing tree farms.


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