Vacation time should be relaxing, but it’s often just a different kind of work. Doesn’t mean it isn’t fun but I seem to come home from vacation more tired than when I left.


This past week was spent on the Gulf Coast, where my mother turned 81. One of my goals was to help get her computer fixed—her desktop machine is about four years old and had no antivirus software to speak of, so it was crashing over and over again. Plus, she was on a dial-up connection, and in this day and age, that’s easy to fix.


While I was getting the computer repaired and a DSL line ordered for her home, I thought about how we get information these days. My mom doesn’t watch much TV, apart from a couple of favorite shows, so she isn’t likely to see the public service announcements we produce here at EERE. However, now that she’s got better Internet service, there’s a chance we can reach her through her computer.

Now I can send her links to our Stay Cool, Save Money campaign and know she can get to that information quickly and easily. When that’s the case, there’s a better chance she’ll act on it. There’s a better chance she’ll tell her friends or her church group or any of her social circles. We can engage my mom in ways that we couldn’t have before her computer was fixed.

There’s no guarantee, of course. But the opportunity, the possibility, is there. Our nation is going online more and more; everyone, from tiny children to retirees in nursing homes, are learning about the world through this magic box that only science fiction could have imagined when I was born.

That’s a challenge for us: finding ways to communicate more effectively with you, the online public. Now that you’re there, now that you’re able to see the words I’m typing now, there are great opportunities for us to talk about energy efficiency—that is, how to save you (and the whole country) money and energy both.

I came back from my vacation tired but very happy with what I’d done to help my mom. Maybe that’s the best way to come back from a vacation. Now to start working on projects around the house…

Drew Bittner is a former Presidential Management Intern (PMI) and the Web content manager for EERE's corporate Web pages.