Few businesses can afford to ignore the benefits of energy conservation. From cooling the conference room to powering computers, it's easy for office energy use—and energy costs—to creep up. Luckily, many office energy-saving measures are simple and inexpensive, and some are even free.

Simple adjustments like taking advantage of natural light and adjusting room temperatures based on occupancy can save energy and potentially cut costs—and that's money that can go straight to your bottom line.

Get started with these energy-saving tips for your office: 


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Analyze your current energy use

Study your office's energy bills and usage patterns, looking for broad trends. How much energy is consumed outside business hours? Has energy use climbed in the past year for no discernible reason? This information serves as a valuable benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of your office's energy conservation efforts.


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Examine entire buildings for inefficiencies

For a more detailed picture of your energy use, enlist an experienced energy auditor or seek the guidance of professionals to install software, sensors and monitors that measure exactly how much energy your office and equipment consume at any given time.

A comprehensive understanding of your current energy use helps identify areas of waste and inefficiency—areas you'll need to prioritize for improvement.


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Set goals and measure your progress

It's important to pursue energy conservation with a plan, keeping your budget and operational needs in mind. Identify where you'll focus first, set goals and measure progress against a baseline over time. Early wins that effectively save energy and reduce costs can help justify more significant future investments, like energy-efficient computers or building upgrades.


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Unplug and shut down devices that aren't in use

Many common office devices like phone chargers, lamps, fans, space heaters, coffee pots and computers drain energy when plugged in—even when they're not in use. Save energy by manually shutting down and unplugging these devices, especially at the end of the workday or before the weekend. If certain devices must run 24/7, consider using a "smart" power strip, which lets you designate which electronics should always be on, and which ones do not need power when they're not in use.


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Choose the right lighting for your office

Lighting is often described as the "low-hanging fruit" of energy conservation because installing energy-efficient lighting is an easy, often cost-effective way to conserve energy.1 Swapping out incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can cut lighting costs by as much as 50 percent, according to the Department of Energy.2 Some light emitting diodes (LEDs) offer even greater energy savings—as much as 75 percent, according to ENERGY STAR®.3

Also look for areas in your office that are overlit, and uninstall lights that are unnecessary. Illuminate a smaller work area with task lighting instead of lighting the entire room. If natural light is available, flip the switch off and open the blinds to save energy. Even seemingly small measures like turning off the advertising lights in your vending machine—which you can do by contacting your vendor—can contribute to energy savings.

Finally, enlist the help of office occupants to turn lights off when they're not needed or when workers are leaving at night; this simple habit can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent, according to ENERGY STAR.4 Occupancy sensors and timers can do this automatically.


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Invest in energy-efficient office equipment

Replace older office equipment with efficient ENERGY STAR servers, computers, monitors, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, printers and copiers. Replace cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors with more-efficient LED or liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors, and don't forget to upgrade the break room refrigerators and dishwashers.

Energy savings from equipment replacements can add up. According to ENERGY STAR, if all computers sold in the U.S. met its requirements, the annual savings in energy costs would total $1 billion each year, and the annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equal to taking 1.4 million vehicles off the road.5 ENERGY STAR VoIP phones use about 40 percent less energy than older models and offer advanced energy-saving features.6

Take advantage of the power management features of your electronic equipment. Activating your computer's sleep mode can save $10 to $100 in electricity costs per computer annually.7 Be sure to activate energy-saving settings like "sleep" or "standby" modes on your copier, computer and monitor—but be on the lookout for software bugs or push updates that can override these settings.

Deleting unnecessary emails and files also can impact energy conservation: When your business has less digital information to store, you may need less energy to power and cool onsite and offsite data centers.8


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Lose the tie and raise the thermostat

Heating and cooling the office can be a significant source of energy use, costs and waste. Save energy by raising the thermostat a few degrees in the summer to use less air conditioning. Stay comfortable with a dress code that encourages removing jackets, ties and wearing light-weight clothing when appropriate. Instead of blasting the air conditioning, open a window to let in a breeze, or shade direct sunlight to cool a room.

In the winter months, open blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight to naturally heat your workspace, and close the blinds at night to reduce heat loss.

When the HVAC system is in use, keep vents clear and be sure to inspect and retune your equipment to ensure optimal performance.


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Automate energy management

Trying to change human behavior only goes so far. Fortunately, technology can pick up the slack.Include sensors and motion detectors as part of your automated building management system to detect and automatically shut down equipment and lights that aren't in use.

Smart energy management systems even learn the flow of people in and out of a room and adjust lighting, heating and cooling based on these expectations. Inspect these systems regularly for "operational stray" resulting from software bugs or workers making manual adjustments that overwrite settings.9


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Make energy conservation part of your company culture

Communicate the importance and impact of your energy conservation efforts, and reward energy saving habits. Enlist the creativity of office occupants to generate energy efficiency ideas. Designate an energy ambassador on each floor, or challenge employees to an energy savings contest. Consider telework, bike-to-work days and charging stations for electric vehicles to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your office.



Wondering which steps to take first? Direct Energy Business can help you identify, prioritize and implement office projects with the greatest potential to reduce energy use, so you can buy less of what we sell. Our Total Energy Management approach can help lower energy costs with data and analytics, energy efficiency and alternative energy solutions, including:

Let our Advisory Services team help you make the best decisions for your business.
See how we can help you buy less of what we sell.

Download our free Strategic Services guide now!

 



1. Energy.gov, "How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents," retrieved February 10, 2016ENERGY STAR,
2. "Why Choose ENERGY STAR Qualified LED Lighting?" retrieved February 2016
3. Ibid.
4. ENERGY STAR, "Low- and no-cost energy-efficiency measures: Lighting," retrieved February 2016
5.ENERGY STAR, "Computers for Consumers," retrieved February 2016
6.ENERGY STAR, "Voice of the Internet Protocol Phones for Consumers," retrieved February 2016
7.ENERGY STAR, "Activate Power Management on Your Computer," retrieved February 2016
8.The New York Times, "Power, Pollution and the Internet," September 22, 2012
9.Think Progress, "New Study Suggests Your Typical City Office Building Wastes Lots Of Energy," October 23, 2013


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