Energy Management

4 Easy Ways for your Employees to Reduce Energy Costs

By Megan Porter

“Turn off the lights when you leave the room” “Don’t play in the water” “Open the blinds and let the daylight in” “Do your chores” “A little friendly competition never hurt anyone” These are phrases that are ingrained in most of us at a young age and are meant to make the world a more agreeable place. Why not take those phrases to the next level? Nearly 30% of a company’s operating costs go to providing energy.1 Here are five easy ways for employees to reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint:

1) Window Shades
There are many ways to use natural light and window shades to an advantage. When rooms, especially conference rooms, are empty closing blinds will save on heat, lighting, and air conditioning costs. By closing window shades you provide an additional layer of protection against the elements. Alternatively, when experiencing mild weather opening the shades and allowing in natural light can assist with the amount of artificial light needed to illuminate many spaces. Be sure at the end of business each day, all shades are closed to ensure maximum conservation when the space is unoccupied. Assign employees to be monitors for conference and break rooms and personal work spaces to ensure all areas are monitored.2

2) Competition
Create a “Green Team” with your employees to help build support for energy efficiency and reduce office waste. A team approach can improve buy-in from all levels of employees, which helps to ensure greater energy savings. The Green Team works together to produce an employee competition, set sustainability goals, create a workable plan, implement the plan, gather data, and recognize participants for their efforts. The team should prepare a pilot project that could be exhibited at the program’s launch to provide credibility and evidence of actual savings.3

3) Adopt a light, appliance or outlet
Break rooms are a good place to start looking for energy draining items. Is the dishwasher full when it’s run? Is the coffee pot on a timer? Is the refrigerator set to the recommended temperature? Lights on and no one’s on break? Many appliances and light around your office could be used more efficiently.

Running a dishwasher at capacity and letting dishes air dry can save electricity, water, and the cost of soap. Many new coffee pots have a safety feature that is built in and saves energy – the automatic timer. Turning off the pot stops the heating element from using unnecessary energy and stops coffee from burning to be enjoyed later. The recommended temperature for refrigerators are 35°-38°F for the fresh food compartment and 0° F for separate freezers.4 “Last one out turn off the light!” is a great rule, but not always followed. Have all employees take ownership of an area, light, or appliance to ensure maximum conservation.

4) Computer settings
The old rule of leaving a computer on is better for its hard drive has become outdated. Most technology now becomes obsolete before repeated powering on and off can do damage to its lifespan. There is a small surge that takes place when a computer is powered on, but it is still less than what is used by leaving the machine running and also cuts how much heat the machine produces.

Computer power management (CPM) features automatically place monitors, computers, and notebooks into a low-power "sleep mode" after a period of inactivity. When the mouse or keyboard is touched, it "wakes" the computer in seconds. 5 Many printers, fax, machines, and liquid-crystal display (LCD) projectors also have CPM settings you can utilize. Each employee should ensure their workstation is set for optimal power conservation by checking their CPM settings.

Quick rules to know:

  • Screen savers are not money savers; the monitor is still running at full power and consuming energy and they may cause the computer to not enter sleep-mode.
  • Turn off the monitor if you aren't going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes.
  • Turn off both the CPU and monitor if you're not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours.

ENERGY STAR, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program, offers a spread sheet to calculate how much your office can save by utilizing CPM features.

Looking for more opportunities to reduce costs and energy consumption? Download the eBook "25 Money-Saving Tips for Business" and learn about more solutions. Also, remind your employees about good habits with these downloadable Employee Energy Efficiency Awareness posters.

  1. U.S Department of Energy
  2. U.S Department of Energy
  4. U.S Department of Energy

4 Easy Ways for your Employees to Reduce Energy Costs
  • 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.

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