Office worker plug loads account for up to 20 percent of office electricity use, according to the New Buildings Institute. What are plug loads? They're anything that's plugged in (from coffee makers to computers), but not related to general lighting, HVAC, or water heating. These simple cost-saving measures will help take your office to the next level of energy efficiency.
1. Turn equipment off. It may be old school, but it's effective. Turn off lights and electronic equipment (including computer monitors) when they're not being used. Keeping a computer on all the time can cost up to $100 or more per year. Timers, occupancy sensors, and other control devices are low-cost additions that automate this process and optimize energy savings.
2. Reduce standby power. Office equipment and appliances continue to draw power 24 hours a day; even when they're turned off. Use power management settings on computers, printers, and other office equipment. Laser printers typically draw about one-third of their printing power when in standby mode. For copy machines, close the lid when it's not being used so it goes into power saving mode. Using "sleep" mode on computers can save up to $50 per computer per year. One university saved $76,500 per year after implementing this feature on 2,900 computers. Advanced power strips can power off devices based on usage or a set schedule.
3. Streamline copying operations. Use electronic documents whenever possible. Copy in batches and use the automatic document handler; the copier spends less time in active mode. Copy on both sides; it saves paper and reduces copier operation time.
4. Eliminate personal appliances. Space heaters and coffee makers hidden away in individual offices can cost up to $135 a year per office. Remind staff to turn them off or unplug them at end of the day. Maintain a comfortable temperature in your office to discourage the use of personal fans or space heaters.
5. Upgrade equipment. Replace PCs with laptops; they use far less energy (you'll save as much as $60 per year per computer). Replacing outdated monitors with LED liquid crystal display models can save as much as $13 per year for each monitor. Choose ENERGY STAR® certified monitors and other office equipment; you'll save up to 50 percent on energy costs.
These strategies can add up to big savings, and because of the lower emissions, we will be closer to meeting our sustainability goals.
--Submitted by Dave Lyons, Energy Manager