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Reduce office energy use

By Recyclebank |
Your office gobbles a lot of energy. Try powering down with these at-work energy-saving strategies.
If your company's like most, powering your office — think lights, computers, cooling systems — is one of your biggest expenses and one of the toughest to cut. Indeed, office buildings devour about 19 percent of the nation's energy,[1][2] proportionately more than any other country on Earth.[3]

Plugging in all those computers and copiers — not to mention the office coffeemaker — accounts for 70 percent of all commercial power consumption. Lighting tops the list of office electricity drains with cooling/heating/ventilation and business equipment not far behind.[1][4] Unfortunately, powering up so prodigiously not only impacts your company's bottom line, but it also impacts the planet's bottom line in the form of carbon emissions and global warming. Indeed, office buildings are responsible for 20 percent of the nation's total greenhouse gas burden.[5]

Fortunately, there are strategies to help you shrink your carbon footprint and recast yourself as an energy-saving office — not an energy siphon. Consider powering down in the following areas:

Lighting

Dim your energy load and cut global warming gases with the flick of an energy-efficient light switch. Illuminate with these low-watt power-savers.

  • Replace T12 fluorescent lamps with T5 or T8 bulbs: They're nearly 40 percent more efficient, saving you energy and shrinking your office footprint.
  • Replace incandescents with CFLs: Slash energy costs and expenses with these power-saving bulbs that last for up to a decade.
  • Choose ENERGY STAR light bulbs and fixtures: Or try these money- and energy-savers.
  • Use task lighting: Turn off energy-eating ceiling lights and flip on your desk lamp.
  • Choose LED lighting: They're still expensive and under-developed, but light-emitting diode bulbs are not only durable and efficient, but they've been ID'd as the future of lighting.

Heating/Cooling

Stay comfortable year-round and energy-aware at the same time with these thermal strategies.

  • Install a programmable thermostat: Automate your building's temperature and boost energy efficiency by installing one of these inexpensive devices.
  • Install double pane windows: These energy-savers can cut heating and cooling costs in your building by 30 percent or more.
  • Seal air leaks: The US Department of Energy (DOE) calls this a top priority for buildings looking to up their energy efficiency.
  • Choose a window film: Keep heat out during warm weather and heat in during cooler seasons with these reflective coatings.
  • Stop air drafts: Air moving in through cracks and gaps in building envelopes accounts for as much as $13 billion dollars worth of lost energy in the US each year.

Appliances/Electronics

Don't let the equipment that runs your office suck more than its share of the power. Try the following low-power options.

  • air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, computers, and printers.
  • Install a power strip: Don't let vampire energy drain power from your computers and other electronic equipment when they're turned off. You'll save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Buy a laptop instead of a desktop: Laptops use 80 to 90 percent less energy than desktops.
  • Use a renewable power source to charge your mobile devices: Cut carbon emissions from fossil-fuel generated energy with solar chargers.

Employee Behavior

All the conservation measures in the world won't help your office go green if your employees don't also break their bad energy habits. Ask the people who work for you to pitch in.

  • Turn off the lights when not in use: Overwhelmingly simple and hard not to do once your employees develop the habit.
  • Adjust your computer's power settings to reduce energy use: You can reduce up to 60-80 percent of your computers' energy use during normal operations and save from $25 - $75 per year per machine by having employees enable the power management features.
  • Turn off your computer when not in use: Computers still soak up a lot of energy when they're in standby mode.
  • Use your copier's energy-saving features: Slash your office's energy consumption with these simple power-saving settings.
  • Use your printer's energy-saving features: Energy savings await when you automate your printer's power management.
  • Unplug your charger: Ninety-five percent of the power consumed by the average charger goes into heat while the charger sits idly without a phone or mobile device attached.
  • Raise your air conditioner's temperature settings: The smaller the difference between outside and inside temperatures, the less your cooling system has to work to cool your office space.
  • Lower the shades: On hot days, lower the shades on windows that receive direct sunlight. On cold days, keep the curtains and blinds shut to help retain interior heat.

External links

Footnotes

  1. World Resources Institute - WRI's Green Office Guide
  2. US Energy Efficiency Administration - Commercial Buildings: 1992 Consumption & Expenditures
  3. World Business Council for Sustainable Development - Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Alarming Energy Growth Page 11
  4. US Energy Information Administration - Office Buildings - How do they use electricity?
  5. ENERGY STAR - Commercial Real Estate: An Overview of Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Opportunities
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