Small businesses encounter a plethora of costs when they start up. From rental space expenses to salaries and benefits, all of these add up and have a significant impact on a business’ budget. The cost of energy also plays a big part in running a business and ensuring operational efficiency.
Water, gas and electricity can be pricey, especially if your employees work extra hours. This guide contains important recommendations for those who want to make an office more energy efficient. These pointers will not only ease the pressure on your budget but will also contribute to protecting the environment and using fewer resources than needed.
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
The easiest way to cut costs and make your office more energy efficient is to install a programmable thermostat. Heating and cooling are two of the biggest energy users in any work space. A programmable thermostat enables you to heat or cool certain spaces only during working hours by setting comfortable temperatures. Thermostats are easy to use by anyone in the office and the settings can be adjusted manually for special circumstances such as working overtime and staying late.
You will notice a significant change in your energy bill when you start using this type of thermostat. Other advantages of installing the device are being able to maintain a consistent temperature, spending less time constantly adjusting the settings, utilizing resources more effectively, putting less wear and tear on your heating and cooling systems and keeping the office’s HVAC system optimized to the latest standards.
2. Replace Desktop Computers with Laptops
If your employees don’t need desktop computers, you shouldn’t hesitate to upgrade the old PCs to newer, more cost efficient laptops. A desktop computer uses between 60 – 250 watts even when it is running a screen saver. And if your employees use additional monitors, the energy usage is even higher. A 17 inch or 19 inch LCD monitor uses anywhere between 19 – 40 watts while a 20 inch or 24 inch LCD monitor uses between 17 – 72 watts. By comparison, a laptop only uses 15 – 45 watts, considerably less than a desktop and a monitor.
Desktop computers are not only inefficient from an energy point of view, they are also bulkier and more restraining than a laptop. Desktops emit a lot of heat and during summer months this might make employees turn the AC on lower temperature settings, thus using even more electricity. Additionally, employees are more satisfied with a laptop than a computer. It allows them to work in different places around the office and even to work remotely when they need to.
3. Upgrade the Lighting
Traditional incandescent bulbs consume between 20 – 80% more energy than energy efficient bulbs. Light emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and halogen incandescents all fall under the energy efficient light bulbs umbrella. Depending on the size of your office, energy efficient fixtures can save you a few hundred dollars in energy costs yearly and don’t need to be changed as often as traditional incandescent bulbs.
New energy efficient bulbs come in a plethora of light levels and colors so you’ll be able to take your pick and find what you need for your office environment. These types of bulbs are more expensive than the obsolete incandescents, however, the cost is justified in the long run.
4. Switch Off Unused Equipment or Use the Hibernation Feature
The vast majority of office electronics feature a hibernate or sleep setting. Monitors, laptops, desktops, and printers automatically switch themselves to a low power mode but you should check and make sure this setting is enabled. Each employee can also manually put their laptop or computer into hibernation mode, which enables them to save the existing work and continue wherever they left off the next day. Activating the sleep setting can save roughly $50 per computer yearly.
Along the same vein, equipment that is not in use should be switched off completely. This includes scanners, microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, lights, vending machines and air conditioners. Switching these electronics off helps decrease the energy bill and conserves energy. This should be a standard procedure over the weekend and, more importantly, during holidays.
5. Invest in Energy Efficient Devices
Energy efficient devices are pricier than traditional ones but they also come with a rapid payback. Energy Star certified equipment uses less energy and is more efficient. For instance, a smaller, new refrigerator consumes less and will significantly reduce the energy bills. Keep in mind that a small office doesn’t need a big refrigerator and can definitely do without a freezer. A small fridge will not only occupy less space in the office kitchen but will also be more energy efficient.
If your office is located in an old building and it came with outdated equipment, it’s high time you changed it. Old systems such as air conditioners and heaters are most likely drawing unnecessary power and failing to work at maximum efficiency. In other words, outdated equipment is making you bleed money. Replacing these with Energy Star, newer versions will reduce the electricity bill and the maintenance costs.
6. Allow Your Employees to Work from Home
Thanks to new technologies, most businesses can give employees the option to work remotely at least once a week. Using a VPN, employees can still safely access the work network, keep in touch with their colleagues and stay up to speed with the latest developments. Virtual meetings are not an issue either with tools such as Skype and WebEx helping employees to connect with each other or with clients regardless of their current location.
Allowing employees to work remotely one day per week helps businesses reduce the electricity costs since less lighting, cooling, heating and power is required. This method is not only energy efficient and environmentally friendly but it has also been proven to improve employee morale and help individuals stay motivated.
7. Think About Installing Solar Panels
Solar power is considered the future for a good reason. Solar panels create pure, clean energy from the sun. Using these to fuel the equipment and electronics in your office will drastically bring down your electricity costs. There’s no denying that solar energy does not come cheap. This renewable source of energy is pricey, however, statistics show that the expenses can be recovered within just a few years as long as the solar panels are used almost exclusively.
Installing solar panels will initially put a strain on your budget but you will only reap the benefits in the long run. What is more, you will be bringing your personal contribution to decreasing the world’s dependence on fossil fuel and combating greenhouse gas emissions.
John Stuart works on behalf of sovpsl.com in outreach and content creation. He creates engaging content that help businesses connect with their audience and stand out from the crowd.