Cutting back on energy consumption has been a prominent theme in the public eye for a while now. Price hikes and the environmental impact of using too much energy have left many people concerned about the size of their carbon footprint.

Many people are taking measures to cut back their energy usage at home through simple tricks like switching off lights and turning off taps. Yet, an average office runs for 40 hours a week or more, so there’s plenty of energy being consumed, and in many cases wasted, in work time. The majority of entrepreneurs would claim that they spend more of their time in the office than at home, so with this in mind, how can businesses apply small energy-saving tips they use in the home to lower their office energy consumption?

Energy saving
photo credit: Kuobo

Research from the Carbon Trust has declared that even minor, no-cost small actions can help to reduce energy costs by 10%. For a small business this translates to a huge amount over the course of a year. We will discuss 5 key energy consumption areas to examine to ensure maximum savings can be made.

Examine your energy use

Energy use varies from company to company. Offices are typically the greatest energy consumers due to electrical equipment such as computers and lighting.

However, building companies and factories also use a large amount of energy. Have a theoretical walk around your business and decipher where the most energy is consumed; what you can realistically cut down on and which is essential for business. Reviewing past energy bills and meter readings will give you a good indication of your general consumption. If you feel like there is nothing you can cut down on, then consider switching your energy supplier to a cheaper tariff using an energy comparison website.

Assess how energy is used out of working hours too. Are the computers left switched on overnight? Do the lights need to stay on when not in use? Simple changes like making sure laptops aren’t left charging overnight can make a huge difference to your figures.

Lighting

Decreasing light usage in the office is not feasible for most companies, as large spaces need to be well lit throughout the day to boost productivity.

You may think that changing the type of lights you use may only alter the office aesthetics, but using alternative lights to traditional bulbs can save your business a great deal, with a possible saving of up to 30% on your energy bill. Installing slim line (26mm diameter) fluorescent tubes, as opposed to larger tungsten lights, can eliminate flicker and humming and can use up to 75% less energy, research from the Carbon Trust has found.

LED lights can also provide substantial savings, although initially a little more expensive, they do last a long time and therefore need less frequent replacement compared to other bulbs, saving you money in the long run.

LED light towers
photo credit: Jared Tarbell

Heating

Getting your heating right can make a significant amount of difference to your business, as heating accounts for over half of your energy costs.

Many offices fall into the trap of blasting the heating on, while simultaneously opening the windows when workers get too warm, which creates an unnatural temperature change we find hard to adapt to. Rather than jumping from one extreme to the other, subtly alter the temperature of the room using the thermostat and never change the temperature by more than 5 degrees C at a time.

It is also wise to check that your building is properly insulated. If you are operating from an older building or a large warehouse, you may want to look into long-term insulation measures for future energy savings.

Office equipment

20% of the commercial energy bill is accounted for by office equipment such as computers, printers and photocopiers.

The Carbon Trust research also revealed that a vast majority of this use was due to computer monitors being left on. It is a common misconception that screen savers save energy, when in reality they only save the screen image from “burning in” when the image is static for a long period of time.

Switch monitors off using the power button on the screen when not in use, unplugging laptop chargers and fully shutting down machines after hours can help you to achieve a 75% annual energy saving.

Kitchen

While it’s important to have a refreshing drink in the morning, don’t forgot to switch off water fountains and coffee machines when the day is complete. The same goes for microwaves and toasters after the lunchtime rush has settled. Clean out the fridge on a Friday to ensure food is not left in, to allow it to be switched off over the weekend.

All of these tips are applicable for domestic and corporate energy consumers, so make sure you’re taking the time to identify ways in which you can save money at home and at work.