Contributed by Kim Whitley
These are likely to be the three main consumers of energy in a typical office environment. And therefore three main focuses of workplace sustainability.
After all, you’ll need to power the computers your staff are working with, while ensuring that you provide the ideal lighting and heating for employees to perform their jobs comfortably. After all, comfortable employees are productive employees.
However, energy isn’t cheap to come by. The cost of energy and utility bills is only rising, and paying these expenses can take up a considerable chunk of what could otherwise be profits for your business.
It’s therefore no wonder that office-based businesses might be especially keen to cut down on their energy use.
Money-savings aren’t the only benefit to gain from reducing your energy consumption, though. By reducing your energy use, your business becomes more eco-friendly as a result, meaning that your day-to-day activities have less impact on the wider environment.
By making a point of adopting a more eco-friendly approach across your business, it’s also likely that the perception of your company will become more positive. Customers like a business that cares about green issues and does all it can to be energy-efficient and kind to the environment.
Fortunately, adopting an eco-friendly energy policy in your office is quite easy. No sweeping, grand or dramatic gestures are needed to work toward workplace sustainability; you don’t need to turn off the heating altogether or shell out for solar panels to start reaping the benefits.
So, in an effort to help your business seamlessly adopt an eco-friendly energy policy, here are some of the ways you can cut down on your lighting, heating, and electronic equipment bills:
- Put up posters and stickers reminding staff to only turn on the lights when necessary, and ensure they are turned off when a room is unoccupied.
- In times when you perhaps don’t have as many staff members or particular departments in the office, make sure that only the required areas are using the lights, so you aren’t lighting parts of the office unnecessarily.
- Replace any standard bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives – namely, compact fluorescent models – to reduce your energy use even when the lights are on.
- Consider installing daylight sensors, as this way, you and your employees don’t have to remember to switch off any lights. [Editor’s note: Also consider occupancy sensors that will switch lights off if a room is empty for a set time.]
- We tend underestimate the benefits of natural sunlight. The placement of your windows and the direction of sunlight could mean that you can turn off the lights for a portion, if not all of your workday. Likewise, if there are any trees nearby that could be creating shade in your office, take the time to trim these back to maximise exposure to sunlight and reduce shadowing.
- Giving your office a lick of paint and opting for lighter, brighter colours on the walls and ceiling can help to make the room appear lighter, and thus mean that you perhaps don’t need to turn on the lights in the office as much.
- According to the Carbon Trust, a 2°C increase in office temperature creates enough CO2 in a year to fill a hot air balloon, and by modifying the temperature of your office when it’s empty over the weekend or after hours, or reducing the temperature by just 1°C, this can cut fuel consumption by around 8%. [Editor’s note: A temperature difference of 5°C equals 9°F. To put it another way, 1°C is not quite 2°F.]
- In terms of air conditioning, keeping this on for one extra hour per day uses enough energy in a month to power a TV for over a year, so the Carbon Trust advises to turn it off overnight.
- Encourage employees to put on another layer of clothing rather than use an electric heater if they are feeling cold, as these are notoriously expensive heat sources to run.
- Making use of window blinds or curtains can help to contain any heat when the office is closed. The office will naturally accrue heat in the day from your staff using their computers, and by closing the blinds and curtains at day’s end, you can conserve this heat much more effectively.
Electronic equipment and appliances
- The Carbon Trust has found that a computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will cost around £45 a year, but switching them off out of hours and putting them on standby rather than leaving them on when not in use could reduce this to less than £10 a year. [Editor’s note: You don’t need to know the exchange rate to see what a dramatic difference it makes not to run computers constantly!]
- Turn off all printers, photocopiers, and other equipment that doesn’t need to be left on at the end of the day and over the weekend. If you plug all electronics into a single power strip then this ensures you can turn off everything at once. Electronics can still consume energy if they are plugged in but not switched on, so this could save you more than a pretty penny on your energy bills.
- Getting to know your office’s PCs’ settings can also work wonders if you’re looking to reduce energy use. Enabling the hibernation mode on computers will mean that when employees are away at meetings, they can automatically conserve energy. Ensure that screensavers aren’t used, though, and instead opt for the monitor to turn off, as they still use electricity.
- Use ink-jet printers in place of laser printers, and laptop computers in place of desktop computers to save up to 90 more energy. Flat screen monitors are also more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts, while you can easily cut back on energy usage (and save on paper) by making double sided copies and print-outs whenever possible.
This blog post was written by Kim Whitley on behalf of UK Power, the business energy savings experts.