The UK government has set ambitious targets relating to the reduction of carbon emissions. Previously a huge focus has been placed on reducing energy consumption at an individual level, mainly in the home. This focus area has been expanded to cover the workplace, as lowering energy consumption in large occupancy buildings is key to reaching agreed-upon targets. Workplace energy saving is a topic that is frequently discussed but rarely actioned.
With the rollout of widely available smart meters and the release of more fine-grained energy monitoring equipment for the workplace, it is increasingly possible to disaggregate collective energy consumption and change behaviours at an organisational level.
So, what exactly are these workplace energy savings behaviours, and how realistic are they for the modern workplace?
Reducing Air Con Usage
While heating and cooling buildings is necessary, it can also be quite costly and require a large amount of energy. A great alternative is looking at cheaper and more energy-efficient ways to warm and cool a room, for example:
Dress for the Season: Wear lighter clothes in summer and warmer clothes in winter, and wear layers so you can dress up and down accordingly. Rooms won’t have to be heated to an excessively high temperature if people aren’t wearing t-shirts in the middle of winter.
Utilise Natural Air Flow: Keep doors and windows closed when heating a room so heat doesn’t escape, but open doors and windows when it is warm to minimise air conditioning and prevent the room from getting stuffy.
Use an Energy Management System: Enabling you to set timers for air conditioning: program them to turn on and off ahead of time before people get in/leave the building.
Install Weather Strips on Doors and Around Windows: This will prevent air from escaping while the air conditioning is on and so keep the room at a stable temperature.
Reduce Lighting Usage
It’s estimated that around 15% of a business’ yearly energy bill is spent on lighting, and about half of offices in the UK leave their lights on overnight and at weekends. This is something that people would never let happen at home, so why let it happen at work? Here are some helpful tips to reduce the amount of energy being consumed by lighting:
Turn off lights when you leave a room: This is so obvious, but you’d be surprised by how often people just forget or don’t bother.
Use LED Bulbs: They last up to 2.5x longer than CFL and 25x longer than incandescent bulbs.
Set Lights to Turn Off Automatically at The End of The Working Day: Make sure to enable a manual override for people who need to work overtime.
Use Natural Daylight as Much as Possible: Try to arrange desks so they are near windows and the use of artificial lighting is reduced.
Streamline Use of Office Equipment
Dozens – possibly hundreds – of people across your building use PCs, display screens, printers, phones, and more, so if this equipment is left on or used when it’s not necessary, especially without the use of energy-saving features, then that’s just burning up electricity.
Utilise Different Power Modes: Set computers to go into sleep/hibernation mode when not in use short-term but shut it down fully when you are done using it for the day.
Set Equipment to Energy-Saving Modes: Most modern PCs and monitors have these settings.
Don’t Print Something Unless Absolutely Necessary: Refer to a digital version instead or, if someone needs a copy, email it, or share it via Google docs.
Ensure That Equipment Purchased for The Office Has a High Energy Rating: Replace older types of office equipment, as they can use between 50 and 90% more electricity than energy-efficient models.
Kitchen Energy Efficiency
No matter whether the kitchen in your office workplace is small or large, electricity will be used to power equipment that’s used a lot throughout the day, such as kettles and coffee makers – as well as the sink – and can easily be wasted through poor practices.
Keep an Eye on the Taps: Don’t leave taps dripping or leave them running for longer than is necessary. Report dripping faucets so they can be promptly repaired.
Mind the Gap: Make sure there is at least a 10cm gap behind the fridge, as this allows heat to flow away easier and saves electricity.
Control From the Source: Switch appliances off at the plug when they’re not in use – they won’t drain a huge amount of electricity when left plugged in, but it all adds up.
Don’t Overfill the Kettle: This will use an unnecessary amount of energy to boil the water (it is thought that most people use double the amount of water they really need). Be sure to descale your kettles regularly.
Regardless if you work in an office, retail store, restaurant or other large occupancy building the approach is the same: what gets measured gets managed. If you want to learn more about a smart way to not only measure your energy consumption, but understand it, act on it, and change your consumption behaviours contact us here.