Note: The information contained in this section offers general advice but is not a guarantee on specific level of power savings. For more information consult your power provider, or appliance manufacturer.
Running a business comes with many operating costs. Our businesses need power to run – often quite a bit! In fact, New Zealand commercial businesses account for 24% of all New Zealand’s electricity use (Electricity Authority, 2018). There are ways to set up your office and manage power usage at work to reduce the business power bill. Read on to learn about saving power in the workplace.
In the following sections you'll learn things like:
- How to get your staff into good power-saving habits.
- Energy conservation tips to consider when setting up a new office.
- Reasons why your office space may be using more power than needed.
How can we save power at work?
Reducing your business’ energy consumption can be a challenge. After all, many businesses rely on equipment with high power demands. Often reducing power in the workplace is a matter of doing small things that combined, make a difference. We’ll look into these below:
Business computer equipment
Switch off, turn down
Encourage staff to switch desktop computers off at the end of the day – or at least a few times a week. Powering down multiple workstations at once for 12+ hour periods could help to save needless power wastage. How much you save will depend on your specific computers’ energy use. You may also want to get the team to reduce their computer screen brightness down from 100% to a level that’s still practical but not demanding as much power. And of course make sure energy saving settings are on (sleep after inactivity etc).
Consider moving big power-hungry servers off site
Some businesses move their computer servers to the cloud – meaning onsite power consumption is reduced. There’s more to consider than just power use with cloud servers so each business will have to decide if it’s worth it and talk to their IT experts.
Chargers and more chargers
Modern laptops, tablets and mobile phones are usually designed to not draw huge amounts of power, especially once fully charged. However, as long as there’s a charger plugged in to the wall and switched on, there’s likely some power being drawn. Switch off or unplug chargers when not in use.
Choose equipment with a good power to energy consumption ratio
As both technology and the need to care for the environment increases each year, businesses have more options around the equipment they use to do the job. Computer equipment’s impact on both your energy consumption costs and the environment from a lifespan and recyclability standpoint varies between manufacturer. Look out for technical details on the product page of computer equipment to get an idea of its demand on power. In the case of portable devices like laptops, tablets and phones, the efficiency of the battery can make a big difference to its overall power consumption - less charging needed, the better.
Try meeting without computers or TVs
Not all meetings need screens. Making the effort to have a genuine face to face meeting will save money – and might even make for a better discussion!
Office kitchen and staff room
If your workplace is an office, the kitchen and staff room will be used daily for meetings, lunches and coffee breaks. To save on power in this space:
- Consider a modern, efficient hot water dispenser over a kettle – faster and usually more energy friendly. Sometimes these units come with a cold purified water dispenser as well.
- If a kettle is the only option, have staff only boil the amount of water they need; a full kettle boiled will use much more power than required for most needs.
- Keep the work fridge and freezer maintained – any gaps in the seal or worn-out electronics may waste power by making the fridge work harder.
- Try to keep cooking options to microwave or counter-top appliance like a sandwich press. It may be tempting to offer an oven for staff, but these use much more power than the smaller appliances.
- Choose energy efficient heating options like eco-friendly panel heaters that have a timer function.
- Keep the hot water from the tap at a hygienic, comfortable but not excessive temperature to save on the power bill at work.
Unfortunately bad habits with lights at home often flow into work. But even if we are good at work about turning off lights, the bulbs we’re using may not be the most efficient. Here’s some ideas about saving money through office lighting:
- Opt for energy efficient LED lighting over old incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent lighting is also an option, but make sure they are modern as old fixtures can drain power. LED are the most efficient and safe options – and are available in all shapes and sizes.
- Switch off lights in meeting rooms as soon as the meeting’s over. Make it part of the office culture – and call others out if they forget!
- Some parts of the office may have natural light without glare. In these places, consider switching off lights, provided the staff aren’t experiencing eye strain.
- Some lighting options have timers to auto-switch off – these can be a good backup for bad lighting behaviour!
We have a dedicated guide on managing lights that you should read for more ideas.
Business heating and air conditioning
Our workplaces are often bigger, open plan areas than our homes to heat and cool – meaning they’re more expensive. Some spaces will need multiple heat pumps to get coverage across the full area. So how can you reduce the office heating and cooling bill?
Insulate the office
A check of the office’s insulation is a good place to start. Work with the landlord to identify any areas that aren’t yet insulated and explore ways to remedy this.
Double glaze the space
Are the windows double-glazed? If not, there’s going to be heat lost (in the winter) or getting in (in the summer) making your heating/cooling solution inefficient. Double-glazing can help manage temperatures and is good for outside noise reduction.
Find cold drafts
Are your doorways and window frames sealed? New Zealand winters often come with cold winds causing drafts that put undue pressure on a heating system to heat the work space.
Placement of heating and cooling
Where are your heating and cooling units placed? Work with your supplier and team to place these in areas where they’ll get maximum coverage and heat the space as quickly as possible. Then they can be placed on timer, saving power across the day.
Maintain heating equipment
Keep heating and AC equipment maintained with filters replaced regularly. When equipment is not serviced it’s often less efficient on energy use.
Save electricity in hospitality workplaces
We don’t all work in an office. The hospitality industry uses plenty of electricity to run café, restaurants and bars. Consider ways to save on power without compromising service quality.
Choose refrigeration with a good energy star rating
The food and beverage business often comes with some pretty significant refrigeration needs. If you have standalone fridges and freezers, make sure they are both high in quality and efficiency. If you have a walk-in solution like many establishments do, make sure that the unit is efficient, safe and working properly.
Check and maintain seals
Speaking of the fridge and freezer, any seals that are less than perfect could spell power wastage – and of course less than ideal cooling. This can compromise food! Stay on top of this with routine equipment checks.
Cooking Equipment is fully powered off after the day
Not only is it important for safety to make sure ovens, stoves and other cooking equipment is completely cooled down and turned off each day, but it’s also a big waste of power. Take a look around the kitchen and find any equipment that needs to be turned off.
Pick energy-efficient lighting
An establishment’s lighting is often key to creating a certain ambiance. LEDs are more efficient and there’s a large range of options to suit different needs. During the day time, try and avoid having all lights on, instead opting for daylight where possible. The same goes for any signage with lighting outside. Learn more about managing lighting here.
Conserve power use in retail stores
If you operate a retail business, think about the power you could be using in the following places:
- Shop heating for customers – what’s the temperature today? Think about whether the heating needs to be on all day or perhaps just short bursts throughout – or not at all.
- Display and window lighting – are eco-friendly options being used? Are there times of day where some or all of this lighting can switch off?
- Sell lots of electronics? Consider energy saving powerboards to reduce the demand of this equipment on your electricity.
- Have TVs and other digital displays in store? Make sure these are turned off at night. If they are street-facing for after hours promotion, consider timing displays to switch off at times of night with low foot traffic.
Motivating your staff to save power
If you’re the one paying the bills, it’s no surprise that you’d be the most interested in ways to save on overhead expenses. But to really make a difference in your business’ energy usage, you’ll need to bring the whole team on the journey with you.
Because there’s no practical way to measure individual team members’ electricity consumption in most businesses, you might want to consider a team-wide objective. For example, some businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint, or even achieve carbon neutral status, will want to include their power consumption in the calculation.
On a more short-term scale, get staff to set a team prize like a dinner or day trip that equates to the savings made on energy costs.
Top 5 tips to save power at work
Insulate your workspace
Make power saving and ‘switching off’ part of staff culture
Invest in energy-efficient equipment
Maintain all equipment regularly
Choose eco-friendly lighting