22 ways to save energy in the workplace
Reducing energy use is a top priority for many businesses right now, with climate change and rising energy bills forcing us all to rethink how much we consume.
Getting started can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Simple changes can make a big difference. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the average small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) could reduce energy bills by 18-25% by installing energy efficiency measures and implementing behavioural change
With that in mind, we’ve compiled our favourite energy-saving tips here.
Some take advantage of the latest technology, some come down to good old-fashioned common sense. And while some require planning and investment, others can be implemented for free in a matter of minutes.
Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. LED bulbs can help you save as much as 80% on lighting.
Make use of natural light from windows and skylights. Don’t rely on artificial light when it’s bright outside – save it for gloomy days and dark evenings. Daylight blinds can help with this, reducing glare but still allowing natural light to enter the space and reflect on to the ceiling.
Ensure regular maintenance takes place. Carbon Trust figures show that light levels can fall by up to 30% over the course of 2-3 years without ongoing maintenance. Good maintenance can reduce costs by up to 15% over that period.
Take the brightness down a notch. Dimmed lights use less electricity and can be linked to sensors that turn up the light as the daylight outside decreases.
Don’t leave lights on in unoccupied rooms – and make sure everyone shares the responsibility for this. Use stickers above light switches, and send reminders in staff emails or on your intranet. Consider using occupancy monitoring sensors to help automate lighting controls depending on whether the room is in use – they can help save up to 30% on lighting costs.
Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC)
Reducing heating temperatures by just 1°C can cut fuel consumption by 8%. In a large office this can save enough energy to print over 40 million sheets of paper
Treat sources of draughts before spending money on heating, ventilation or cooling systems. Repair any damage. Holes and gaps around walls, windows, doors and skylights should be fixed straight away.
Check that system operating hours match the times when areas are in use. Make changes to controls based on working patterns. Consider a timer system to automatically turn systems off at the end of the day or look into a smart building management system that can be linked with occupancy sensors to automate control depending on whether there are people in the room.
Use loft and cavity wall insulation. A building can lose up to 40% of heat through its roof.
Check that employee desks aren’t too close or too far from radiators and air-conditioning.
Encourage common sense. If a room feels cold, check windows are closed before reaching for the heating controls. If it’s warm and stuffy, turn the heating off before you open a window. Air quality sensors can monitor the conditions in each room or zone, and when linked with smart building management system can automate controls like this to keep rooms at a comfortable temperature in the most energy-efficient way possible.
If you have a lot of footfall in and out of the building, consider using automatic doors to minimise the amount of heat that escapes.
Remind employees to switch off all computers and other equipment that isn’t being used. If people need a little extra encouragement or they’re worried about powering down essential equipment, E.ON recommends introducing a traffic-light system: a red sticker means don’t turn off, an amber sticker means only authorised people can switch the appliance off, and green means anyone can
Don’t rely on standby mode. Surprisingly, appliances left on standby still use up to 50% of the energy they use when in operation, and appliances continue to draw power even if they’re just plugged in
Check whether appliances have energy-saving setting and encourage everyone to use them as the default. Upgrade outdated, energy-intensive equipment. Energy-efficient devices cost more, but they’ll save the company money in the long term
Machines and equipment
Don’t forget kitchen equipment – are seals on fridges in good condition? Are kettles used to only boil the water that’s needed? Is the coffee machine/fridge energy efficient?
Energy monitoring sensors can help identify equipment that is using an unusually high amount of power, helping to spot potential faults or breakdowns before they occur.
Set up a maintenance schedule. Well-maintained equipment is more efficient and lasts longer. Keep equipment free from obstructions and clean fans and filters regularly to prevent overheating
Check whether you’re eligible for any tax breaks. Some local governments and utilities companies provide tax incentives or rebates when you buy energy-efficient appliances.
Consider installing solar panels. While they may be expensive initially, over a few years the free energy they generate can more than make up for the cost of installation.
Plant trees outside your office. Leafy trees offer shade in summer and help keep out chilly winds in winter.
Get an energy audit. Lots of utility companies offer free audits to help you identify ways to save.
We’ve put these tips together with an office environment in mind, but many of them still stand no matter what kind of business you operate.
If you’re interested in the role smart sensors can play in your energy-saving plans you can read more here. Or you contact our smart sensor experts who can talk you through the best options for your organisation.