One of the biggest threats to the environment is our heavy dependence on non-renewable energy sources. Researchers are yet to fully determine the magnitude of the effects of fossil fuel use on the people and planet. Environmental degradation, death and deformities in marine animals, global air pollution, and global warming are just some of the effects. These are just some of the many reasons we should save electricity at work.
Of course, the obvious end to these issues is to stop using fossil-fuel-generated electricity. But that is an achievement that is slow in the making. Many regions in the world now generate their electricity through solar, hydro, thermal, wind, and other renewable sources.
Yet, 80% of the world’s energy still comes from non-renewable sources3.
To mitigate the effect of these polluting energy sources, we need to reevaluate our consumption practices. Especially in the places where we spend the most time, such as at home, school, and our workspaces. In this article, we outline nine different ways you can save electricity at work.
An incandescent bulb left on for a year will consume 876 kWh of energy. Contrary to popular belief, switching off a bulb when leaving a room makes a significant difference. Bulbs consume energy, and in a workspace, you probably have a lot of areas to light up. Encourage your co-workers or employees to switch off the lights when they are not using a section of the office.
Unless there’s an ongoing meeting, boardrooms should be dark. Even if unplanned meetings are the norm at your workplace. We don’t expect that anyone would find offense in the expectation that they need to ‘set up’ a room before using it, or for that matter, flick the light switch.
You can ensure that people remember to switch off light bulbs by placing reminders in each room. For example, you can print and paste a “Please switch off the lights before you leave” flyer on the inside of each door at the office. So anyone leaving will be sure to see it and take the right action.
With the introduction of online file sharing, most workplaces do not need to print out masses of documents anymore. However, we understand that sometimes, employees should only share sensitive information in hardcopy. In that case, avoid printing unnecessary copies. Finalize all details in your documents before connecting to the printer.
If you must print out semi-finalized copies, then try to do so by reusing paper. Here are some changes you can make to print less:
Check out our other tips to save paper in the office.
Elevators are heavy energy consumers. They account for between 3-8% of a building’s energy consumption1. When enough people choose to use the elevators less, they will directly reduce the energy use in that building.
If you work in an office that has elevators as well as a staircase, then you should try to take the stairs more often. It is a great way to reduce the energy cost for your building and it also helps you to get some exercise done during the day.
You can choose to use the stairs once or twice a day. For example, you can take the stairs when heading to/coming back from lunch. Or you can decide to only use the stairs at the start and end of the workday.
Of course, this applies if you don’t work in the mid to top levels of a high-rise building. If your office space is between the first and 5th floor, then choosing to use the stairs once a day can contribute to reducing the energy consumption levels of the building.
A report by National Grid estimates the energy bill for a business to be 19% of their yearly expenditure2. Yet, it is common practice in many workspaces to leave appliances running. Things like the air conditioning system, copying machines, computers, and other heavy electrical appliances are left running overnight. Sometimes, employees leave them running over the weekend and during short holidays.
Switching off the lights and appliances at the end of a day’s work can play a vital role in saving electricity and energy costs for your company. Start making a difference by turning off all the appliances you use before leaving for the day. If you’re not in management, speak to someone to make this an official or unofficial policy.
We should take good care of the devices used in the office. Make a note to disconnect your chargers from the plug and switch them off. A lot of employees keep their laptops plugged in from the moment they get to the office until it is time to close.
Not only will this practice consume more electricity than needed, but it can also reduce the lifetime value of the laptop batteries. This means more e-waste generated over time, and more money wasted replacing parts.
You can also lengthen the time between charges by using your devices on energy-saving mode.
Remote working is another effective way to reduce the collective cost of hosting several workers in one office building. In the US alone, up to 4.7 million employees already work from home at least two days a week. With recent global developments, we expect these numbers to keep growing. Now, imagine how much electricity we can save if every office building stays closed for at least two extra days every week.
Of course, this strategy will only be effective if employees are also energy-conscious while working at home. We can achieve the best results if we manage to not disrupt the average level of energy use in our homes even as we work there.
With a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the temperature in the office whether there are people present to do so or not. You can also decide to upgrade to a smart thermostat model which syncs with your smartphones thus allowing you to control it without even being inside the office.
The smart thermostat model allows you to inform it of your usual working hours thus enabling it to cool/heat the office before employees resume. This helps to save electricity and reduce energy costs.
When purchasing computer devices, it is always better to buy the ones with long-lasting battery life and energy-saving features. They might cost more initially but you should choose to look at it as an investment because the devices will last for a longer period thus saving you more money.
Energy-efficient devices offer various benefits and also help you save electricity as they require less time to charge with more hours of use. Prioritize laptops over desktops when buying devices for the office as laptops make use of less energy.
Microwaves, coffee makers, kettles, and fridges are some of the kitchen appliances needed in the workplace. They run on electricity, thus we should take great care when we use these appliances in the workplace.
Encourage employees to switch off the microwave and other similar appliances after use. This, of course, is another reason why every company needs an established culture of sustainability. Introducing sustainability within the office to your policies should bring to light the importance of saving resources when possible.
If you’re an employee, it’s easy to see the issue of saving electricity at work as someone else’s concern. After all, you’re not paying the electricity bills, right? Wrong. The problem with overconsumption of electricity does not just stop at a high bill. It directly affects our environment and the quality of life we enjoy.
When we collectively use less electricity, then fewer fossil fuels are mined and converted to energy (through harmful methods) for our consumption.
As an employer, you’re in a position to influence other people towards positive change. Make a conscious effort to highlight sustainability and environmental awareness as one of your company’s core values. Not just in theory, but in the ways, you interact with your environment and the resources available to you.
By choosing to use less electricity, both in our work offices and other places, we’re building the right habits for a sustainable future and learning to consume less, and conserve more.
|de Almeida, Aníbal & Patrao, Carlos & Fong, João & Araújo, Rui & Nunes, Urbano & Rivet, Luc & Lindegger, Urs & Nanetti, Maurizio & Cariani, Walter & Disi, Antonio & Manduzio, Laura & Viola, Claudio & Hirzel, Simon & Dütschke, Elisabeth & Oberschmidt, Julia & Fleiter, Tobias & Skoczkowski, Tadeusz & Węglarz, Arkadiusz & Zwierchanowski, Ryszard & Kisiel, Krzysztof. (2010). Options to Improve Lift Energy Efficiency. 10.13140/2.1.5013.2808.|
|National Grid: Managing Energy Costs in Office Buildings|
|World Energy Balances 2018, IEA|