Energy efficiency incentive program

4 Incentive Program Ideas to Get Employees to Save Energy

By Megan Porter

Your employees use a lot of energy during the course of a regular business day, most likely without even realizing it. And all that energy can add up fast. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of ways to get employees involved in energy conservation. By creating an effective energy efficiency incentive program, you can get buy-in from your whole team, thereby maximizing your energy conservation efforts.

It’s not hard to understand why employees are more motivated to save energy at home than they are at work: They have to pay for the energy they use at home. But with a little motivation, camaraderie and education, you can show employees that it is in their interest to make green choices at work as well as at home.

Energy efficiency incentive programs motivate employees to help your company reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, save money on utility bills and become stewards of the environment. A good energy efficiency incentive program can consist of any of the following or all four:

1. Launch a competition
Energy represents a big contributor to any business’s operating costs, and it’s also one of the biggest expenses that businesses like yours have the most control over.1 Consider launching a friendly competition among your employees. Sure, there are those who are going to say it’s hokey, but an energy conservation competition in your workplace is a great way to get employees at all levels involved in an important cause. And when the chance to earn awards and recognition are added as incentives to the mix, “hokey” tends to go out the window.

The scope of an energy efficiency competition can be as big or small as you want it to be. You can restrict it to your workplace or you can open it up to other tenants in your building or the local business community. And any organization can run a competition, from commercial businesses and local governments to school districts and congregations, by:

  • Using ENERGY STAR’s benchmarking competition workbook to sort out all the details and logistics for your competition.
  • Co-branding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and using ENERGY STAR resources to host your own Battle of the Buildings competition.2
  • Checking out the list of legislation and campaigns leveraging ENERGY STAR for ideas and local competitions to join near you.3

2. Create a green team
Forming an office green team is a great way to help increase energy efficiency and reduce office waste. Consider the following checklist of creative ideas from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help your green team get started.4

  • Meet with management to get approval and buy-in for the idea of forming a green team. Support from management adds legitimacy to your team and some of its energy efficiency incentive program measures might require an investment of time and money.
  • Encourage co-workers from different levels and parts of your organization to get involved. Buy-in from all levels of the organization helps ensure greater support and success.
  • Organize a kickoff meeting to develop a plan of action.

Another great resource is EPA’s “Teaming Up to Save Energy” guide,* which provides step-by-step instructions for forming an energy team as well as real-world examples from other businesses and organizations committed to saving energy, saving money and fighting global warming.

3. Spread the word
Make sure employees are constantly reminded of the energy conservation message in different areas of the workplace. Central to any incentive program is the message that there are many reasons to pursue energy efficiency, such as identifying sources of energy waste, cost savings, environmental stewardship and good publicity. Leverage internal and external communication outlets to circulate information about the competition and to attract competitors.5

Tried-and-true ideas include:

  • Scheduling seminars
  • Hanging employee posters with energy-saving suggestions in different rooms
  • Posting reminders to turn out lights when leaving rooms
  • Adding notes to email signatures to consider whether printing the message is necessary

4. Promote your efforts
There are a variety of ways, large and small, to promote your energy efficiency efforts. Promotional activities are an important way to educate the community about energy efficiency and to reward outstanding efforts within your organization to save energy, money and help fight global warming. Consider sharing your progress with:

  • Professional and trade organizations
  • Regional or utility-sponsored energy programs
  • Nonprofit organizations and government programs

Learn more about energy efficiency and other cost-saving techniques
Business owners or property managers looking to further increase the sustainability of their company can download one of the many eBook resources Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has made available. The eBook “25 Money-Saving Tips for Businesses” is a good place to start learning about additional proven practices for reducing energy usage.


  4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  5. Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Four incentive program ideas to get employees to save energy. Learn more.
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

Stay Informed

  • Energy Advisor eNewsletter
    Sign up for PG&E's monthly Energy Advisor for Business eNewsletter to stay informed of the latest news and tools for managing your business's energy use and costs.
    Subscribe »
  • Starting Service
  • Food Service Incentives
  • Ag and food processing incentives