How to Save Electricity in the Office: A guide for Businesses

 

Saving energy in the office can help reduce your company's energy bill and reduce your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and more often than not, it is so simple and cost-effective that there’s really no reason not to.

Here are our tips for minimising electricity consumption in 4 key areas of an office environment.

 

 

1. Lighting

  • Tell your employees to switch off lights in a room if they are going to be out of there for longer than a few minutes at a time and at the end of the day.
  • Use signs next to light switches to remind employees to turn the lights off.
  • Arrange the workspace to take full advantage of natural daylight - this can reduce electricity consumption by up to 19%.
  • Consider the use of desk lamps that sufficiently light up one's work space instead of using the stronger overhead lighting for the whole office.
  • Keep light fixtures clean and free of dust – a heavy coat of dust can block up to half of the light.
  • Switch to energy-saving lighting such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or LED lights that consume five to six times less electricity than ordinary incandescent bulbs and have up to ten times longer life. You may want to upgrade the fixtures too, as older versions tend to be less energy efficient and don’t forget your 'EXIT' signs – they are often a high energy use.
  • Reduce the overall number of lights or consider the possibility of using weaker bulbs in certain areas. Turning off one fluorescent light for an hour a day can save 30 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
  • Install motion-activated lights in areas such as corridors, staircases and rooms that are barely used, timers to automatically turn lights off at the end of the day and light sensors for areas which require lighting when it gets dark e.g. entrances.

 

2. Equipment and devices

  • Set computers, printers and other office equipment to go into sleep/hibernation mode when not in use short-term and use energy-saving modes, but make sure to shut them down fully at the end of the day. Equipment on stand-by still consumes energy.
  • Once your phone, tablet or laptop is fully charged, unplug the charger from the electrical outlet, as it will still draw in energy if it is left plugged in.
  • Service and maintain equipment regularly as properly working equipment uses less electricity.
  • Get rid of any unnecessary equipment from the office.
  • Get rid of desktops and switch to laptops. Laptops use much less energy than desktop computers.

 

3. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems

  • Do not heat or cool rooms that are not being used and switch off the system when leaving the room for a longer period of time.
  • If you need to open the windows for a longer period of time, make sure you switch off the heating/cooling system.
  • Setting the temperature of the HVAC system only one degree higher in summer or one degree lower in winter can reduce energy consumption by up to 5%.
  • Use an energy management system so you can set timers for air conditioning: program them to turn on and off ahead of time before people get in/leave the building.
  • Clean and service your office's HVAC system on a routine basis as this will help reduce your energy bills and make it easier for your office’s HVAC system to cool or heat your office.

More advice on reducing electricity consumption of HVAC systems can be found in our article Summer Energy Saving Tips.

 

4. Kitchens

  • Avoid leaving the refrigerator open for longer than is necessary and make sure you close it properly.
  • Make sure there is at least a 10cm gap at the back of the fridge so that heat can escape efficiently.
  • Use the microwave oven instead of the gas or electric stove because it saves energy due to shorter cooking times.
  • Don’t overfill the kettle as it will have to use an unnecessary amount of energy to boil the water and descale your kettles on a regular basis.
  • Only start the dishwasher when it is full.
  • Avoid using the dishwasher's drying setting as it consumes additional energy.

 

You could also encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the lift where possible and especially if they would be using it alone. Save electricity and promote healthy habits!

 

There are, of course, more advanced energy saving measures that would require a larger capital investment but would also allow you to save larger quantities of electricity.

  • Replace old equipment and appliances with newer higher energy efficient appliances (A+, A++, A+++) that use less energy. Whether it’s the refigerator in the lunch room, the exhaust fans in the bathrooms, the printers, the copy machine or the HVAC system, Class A +++ devices can consume up to 60% less electricity than Class A devices.
  • Move IT to the Cloud - consider getting rid of your computer servers and instead going with cloud-based systems. No more running multiple servers or cooling of thet hot data center is needed.
  • Install solar panels - solar energy is a free, clean and renewable energy source. The initial investment is high, but on average it can be repaid through savings within 6 to 10 years and you can save up to 90% on your monthly electricity bill. It also opens up the possibility of selling surplus energy to the energy grid.
  • Install a heat pump – if you rely solely on electricity for heating your building, then you may want to install a heat pump, a renewable energy source which uses geothermal energy from the ground, groundwater or air to heat an environment, which can also be used to cool the building in hotter months. Heat pumps use 2,5 – 4 times less electricity than electric radiators and heaters.
  • Install an automatic meter reading system to track the effect of any of the above measures on electricity consumption and to continuously monitor and manage it.  An autmatic meter reading system can also provide you with useful information such as:
    • exactly how and when electricity is consumed in your building,
    • what the main consumers of electricity in your system are: lighting, particular equipment, the heating/cooling system,
    • whether you are currently consuming more energy than you need to function at different times of day,
    • where the biggest savings potential lies,
    • what further investments can be justified and why.

 

Many of these adjustments to the way you use electronic equipment in your office seem obvious, but they need to be reiterated. A lot of people simply aren’t aware of how much electricity gets wasted when they bypass the simple act of switching off a light or piece of equipment that is not in use. Educate employees on energy management and encourage them to participate in the achievement of your office’s energy saving goals.

 

True savings can be made with a number of small changes multiplied by a larger number of employees.