HOUSEKEEPING staff at the Rubens Hotel in London are to be told to ensure all televisions are switched off when not in use, rather than left in standby mode.
The move is designed to promote the hotel's image as environmentally friendly and follows a complaint from one of the hotel guests.
General manager Seamus Kirk told Caterer his attention had been drawn to the issue by a comment card last month on which a guest accused the hotel management of showing "a lack of concern for ecological issues".
The guest pointed out that TVs in standby mode use up to 80% of the power of TVs that are fully on, and as such contribute to carbon dioxide emissions unless switched off.
Mr Kirk said the measure was easy to institute, and that the next stage would be to devise information in the form of stickers or cards telling guests of the policy and ensuring they knew how to turn the set on and off.
But the move drew derision from some industry representatives, who saw it only in terms of cost-savings. A spokeswoman for Forte said the group's purchasing department had looked at the overall electricity spend of the company and found televisions had a "negligible" effect on the bill.
Hilton National said the average guest TV was left in standby mode for 20 hours a day, and would account for 0.5% of a 150-bedroom hotel's electricity bill.
This attitude was condemned by pressure group Friends of the Earth, whose senior energy campaigner Simon Roberts said: "Energy saving is made up of lots of seemingly insignificant measures that combine to have a powerful impact - in other words, every little helps."
A spokesman for Sony UK said TV manufacturers were continually looking at ways of reducing consumption in the standby mode, and that a TV that used 80% of the power when switched on was a worst-case figure.
"Even so, it seems common sense to ask people to turn off the set when it's not in use." he said.
Sheila Perera, chairperson of the UK Housekeepers Association, agreed keeping TVs on standby "isn't ecologically clever", but said that view had to be balanced by consideration for the guest.