Image: cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1. Are you wasting electricity?
If you look around your office and think about all the things that are plugged into wall outlets sucking up energy and running up your electric bills, you might realize just how many of them can be turned off. In many offices, you can see the glow of idle monitors through the windows at night. There are some obvious things, such as the fax machine that can never be turned off for fear of missing an important order. Then there are the areas of the office that might be lit up throughout the day such as empty kitchens and restrooms. There are phantom electricity suckers such as paper shredders that even when not in use draw small amounts of electricity as they sit at the ready. That little green light showing the shredder has power sucks up electricity just so you can see the little green light.
2. Motion detection light switches
One major money saver is the installation of motion detection light switches. These switches are available at Home Depot or Lowes and cost about $10. You don’t need an electrician to install them as they come with simple easy-to-follow instructions. These are best installed in places such as kitchens, restrooms and even hallways that are not regularly used. When motion is detected, the light turns on. After a period of about five or 10 minutes with no motion, the light turns out. In some cases, utility companies will reimburse you for the cost of these or provide a one-time credit on your electric bill as it helps them conserve energy as well. Even if they don’t provide an incentive, you will recapture your investment within a few months just by consuming less electricity in these areas that are frequently empty. They also work as good security in the case of a break-in, as areas will light up as burglars move through various areas.
3. Power strip management
Items that might normally be placed close together such as paper shredders and copiers can be plugged into a power strip with a single on/off switch. You also might consider plugging other items that you use such as fans or heaters to be plugged into the strip, so at the end of the business day one button can kill the power to everything. Power strips are frequently used with computers to plug in a variety of things such as the CPU, the display and speakers. Computers that don’t function while idle should be shut down at night.
4. Thermostat controls
Most thermostats installed today are programmable. Many people don’t understand how they work or don’t know how to program them. Because your HVAC system is the largest consumer of electricity, management of your building temperature and proper use of an HVAC system can result in a huge savings. In summary, programmable thermostats can be set to maintain a specific temperature during a specified period of each 24-hour day. If your office opens at 8 a.m., you could program the thermostat to begin maintaining a temperature of 76 degrees at 7:30 a.m. and hold it until 5 p.m. at which time it will begin maintaining a temperature of 80 degrees. That means if the temperature exceeds 80 degrees, the HVAC system will come on, even in the middle of the night. It will only be on long enough to bring the temperature back down a degree. If the temperature is allowed to climb to 90 degrees because the system is turned off at night, the system will work an hour or longer to get the building cooled down to 76 degrees once turned on manually.