22 ways to save energy in the workplace
Some industries may be more energy-intensive than others, but pretty much every organisation would like to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions.
A quick Google search gives you loads of energy-saving tips, but we’ve compiled our favourites here. Some require planning and investment, others can be implemented for free in a matter of minutes. Some take advantage of the latest technology, some come down to good old-fashioned common sense.
- 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
- Don’t leave lights on in unoccupied rooms. It should go without saying, but remind employees to do their bit. Alternatively, use occupancy monitoring sensors and automate lighting controls depending on whether the room’s in use
- 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
- Use focused lighting. If you don’t need to light the whole room, just light the area you’re working at
- 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
- Use loft and cavity wall insulation. A building can lose up to 40% of heat through its roof
- If you don’t have it already, fit double glazing. You can also use curtains and blinds to help prevent heat loss.
- 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
- Use thermal imaging to find out where else heat is escaping
- 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. A smart building management system can automate controls like this to keep rooms at a comfortable temperature in the most energy-efficient way possible
- 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
- 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
- Use a timer system to programme controls on heating, lighting, appliances and more. Even better, look into a smart building management system that automates control depending on occupancy – for example, switching off lights when the last person leaves a room.
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.