Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and one of the most pain-free methods is to save energy at work. According to the Carbon Trust* many businesses could save at least 20% of their energy bills by using equipment more efficiently and changing employees behaviour towards energy use. They also assert that a 20% cut in energy use would equate to the same benefit as a 5% increase in sales in many businesses .
Here are some of the best tips for saving energy and being more sustainable in the workplace:
It is amazing how many people still leave work each day and don’t switch off their computer or screen – this alone could save about £40pa per person – and it is certainly worth checking power saving features on your computer (in the ‘appearance/display’ option within your computer’s ‘control panel’). There is also a lot of communal equipment that often doesn’t get switched of at night or weekends like printers, photocopiers and servers. In addition to this there may be occasional use equipment that doesn’t get unplugged for long periods of time, like TVs, projectors and power tools – even leaving items plugged in but switched off can use a small amount of ‘phantom’ power. It is important to keep electrical appliances well-maintained and replacing old equipment can save energy. In many small and medium companies it is often more cost effective to have cloud storage rather than your own servers. This will also save electricity and there is much less wasted data storage capacity and the vast amount of energy spent in cooling equipment is done centrally rather than in many different places.
This is one place where huge savings can potentially be made – air conditioning alone can consume over 30% of the total energy used in a typical office workplace. With the exception of the balmiest summer days, you can usually get away in your office with the low tech approach of opening a few windows and doors. Even when being used the air con can be turned down (or is it up?) so that it doesn’t pump out quite so much cold air. In winter it can be unnecessary to use all the radiators and they should have thermostats so that they can easily be turned down. It is also sensible to keep furniture away from radiators so that they circulate warm air more effectively. Wearing more clothes is another idea! I used to work with someone who constantly moaned about being cold in the office yet resolutely refused to wear a jacket or jumper. One other tip is to close curtains and blinds (when dark) as this will reduce the amount of warm air leaving the building.
On the subject of curtains and blinds, in many offices these are closed as people seem to forget about the possibility of allowing natural light to flood it. Having separate switches for different areas of the office (or better still on individual lights) is an excellent idea – how many times do you see just one or two people working in an office and yet all the lights have to be switched on because they are all controlled from one central switch? The extreme eco warrior office manager may even decide to fit presence detector lighting in areas that are not in constant use, like corridors and toilets (you just have to keep moving!). At the very least, staff should be encouraged to ‘switch it off’ and normally good energy providers are happy to give you plenty of free ‘turn me off’ stickers.
Switching Energy Providers
If your company hasn’t switched for some time then it will probably be worthwhile comparing energy prices by contacting My Utility Genius!
You can reduce electricity consumption in the office kitchen by not completely filling the kettle when you are just making a cup of tea for one or two colleagues. I happen to think that some people deliberately do this so as to waste a bit of time away from their desks. You can find instant water boiling dispenser which not only saves time but also just heats the water you need. Switching off and unplugging appliances like toasters, coffee machines and micro waves will save a small amount of power. Keeping the fridge or freezer regularly defrosted will also reduce the amount of energy required.
Some of the above suggestions will yield better results than others, but if you try and carry out as many of these measures as possible there will clearly be a noticeable decrease in your electricity bill.
*Source: Carbon Trust