Energy conservation often gets overlooked in the hurly-burly of offices. But Ryan Murphy has you covered with easy tips to save power at your workplace.
Saving energy at work is more than turning off lights to help lower your organisation’s energy bill. It’s about being conscious of your work surroundings and noticing the habits that may be contributing to energy waste.
With the increase of workplace flexibility, including working remotely, offices come in many forms, which means that, depending on your working environment, you will have different levels of control over the ways that you can save energy.
Here are a few ways you can save power that will be helpful in any environment:
Have meetings outside
If you work in a place that has a lot of meetings, you can save energy by leaving those office lights off and getting back to nature. If the meeting is not confidential, why not take a walk in a park, find a table in a park or have the meeting on a bench somewhere?
Get some vitamin D into you, and feel the benefits that come from being in nature. A lot of studies suggest that being exposed to natural light during your work day can improve productivity and also contribute to an overall healthier life. Not to mention that you’re saving energy at the same time.
Rethink your approach to dishware
As an obsessive loose-leaf tea drinker, I probably have anywhere between four to six cups of tea a day at work. And how many times do I wash my mug, you ask? Maybe once a week. And I only wash my mug with a small amount of cold water. It’s all you need.
The process of heating water uses energy, so washing in cold water will definitely help you save. Also, hand-washing your dishware can save space in the dishwasher, reducing the number of times the dishwasher needs to be in use.
And if by chance you’re on kitchen duty, ensure that the dishwasher is full and set to the energy-efficient setting.
I’m not suggesting you don’t wash your dishes, but think next time you have a mug or a plate that appears to be a little less than sparkling clean. Do you really need to wash it?
Bring ready-to-eat food
Consider bringing in ready-to-eat food that doesn’t need to be heated up in a microwave or stovetop. So many workplaces have sandwich presses and multiple microwaves. If you have the power to, why not consider having the microwave or other appliances removed?
Not only will ready-to-eat food save you prep time, it will also help you save energy in the process.
Rein in the air con
Humans are quite adaptive when it comes to temperature. So why not take this into consideration the next time you want air conditioning or heating? According to Coralair, “You can save considerably on the amount of energy consumed for each 1°C of cooling or heating that you do without. For example, when it’s 35° outside, setting your air conditioner to around 25, rather than say, 22, can save a significant amount of energy without your system running constantly. Balance between comfort and efficiency of the system”.
Larger buildings will often have preset air conditioning. But here’s an idea – consider asking building management to change the settings. At one of my old offices, which was in a tower, we were still able to put in requests to have the air conditioning changed, and the building manager would do what he could to meet this request.
Pop some signs up
In a hectic office, the impending quarterly sales results can push other important matters out of our minds, so put up signs reminding your colleagues to switch off lights. This idea can be extended to recycling – signs showing what can be recycled are effective.
Consider green power
Most power companies provide green power plans. Though they can be costlier than non-green arrangements, the expense can be offset by other measures named here. Explaining to management how they can be offset will be possible once you …
Get an energy audit done
A range of tools are available to figure out exactly what your workplace’s energy costs are and how they can be reduced. Cityswitch and the ABC have collated some of the options for you, including internal and external audits.
Reduce paper use
According to many predictions in the ‘90s, we were all supposed to be working in paperless offices by now. (We don’t have real hoverboards yet either.) But we can make it happen. Reducing the amount of paper used in your office saves trees and lowers your energy use. If you want to live in the future, don’t hit “Print”! (and invent a hoverboard).
Switch off appliances and use power-saving modes
If no-one’s going to be in the office for an extended period, like the Christmas holidays or even weekends, turn appliances off at the wall. Most fax machines, printers and the like have power-saving modes that should be switched on during the week – look for a leaf icon, or, if you’re brave, read the machine’s *gasp* instruction manual.
How many managers does it take to change a light bulb?
That will have to be determined by the light bulb committee, who are due to file their interim report next week … Seriously, though, none! Not in Victoria at least. Thanks to a government scheme, companies like Energy Makeovers will replace power-hungry halogen lights with far more efficient LEDs for free (as long as you have seven or more lights to replace). Don’t know a halogen from an LED? Check out Beacon Lighting’s LED FAQ.
Nothing brings the office together like a competition (except, perhaps, for last night’s episode of The Bachelorette). CitySwitch has prepared a nifty toolkit for turning the greenification of your office into a game.
Start a green team
If you have the time, consider spearheading a green team for your office. Management is hardly likely to object, especially after they see the lower power bills and feel the improved morale. Green teams get people from different departments, who would otherwise have little to do with each other, working cooperatively on a shared challenge, and that’s great for camaraderie. Designate leaders for the green team and let everyone know that suggestions for saving energy are welcome. You’ll soon see the ideas flowing in. COOLmob has a great guide to getting a green team established in your office.
Like many things, saving energy is a mindset that can result in good habits, and then eventually turn into a way of living.
Get the energy conversation started! And if you’re self-employed or work by yourself, take a look at the way you do things. There’s always room for improvement.