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6 Ways to Reduce Office Energy Costs and Carbon Footprint

Save money on your office energy bills

When thinking about how to cut energy costs and reduce our carbon footprint, most people seem to only focus on their homes. Around 2,000 hours of the average person’s year is spent at work, which is around 23% of your time. As such, it is just as important to make an effort towards reducing our environmental impact through energy usage at work.

In the UK, an average, medium sized business is said to use anything between around 30,000 - 50,000 kWh of electricity per year, which is up to 16 times more than the average household.

energy bolts and upward blue arrow

Although you may think that a large workforce prevents meaningful energy conservation, there is nothing to stop you from leading the way reducing your overheads. Hopefully if you can show the benefits of saving energy, others will follow suit, whilst also saving the company some money in the process. Read on for our top 6 energy saving tips!

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#1 - Keep Printing to a Minimum

This may not seem like much of a tip for reducing your energy use, but you’d be surprised at a printer’s energy consumption numbers, especially for the types found in most office buildings. Here’s an example:

  • Energy usage for the average printer
  • When printing - 2.4 kW
  • Standby - 0.31 kW
  • Sleep mode - 0.2 kW
  • Average annual printer cost = £312 Annual price for 20 average printers in the office = £6,240
    Monthly volume - 100,000 pages

  • When printing - 2.4 kW
  • Standby - 0.31 kW
  • Sleep mode - 0.2 kW
  • Average annual printer cost = £312 Annual price for 20 average printers in the office = £6,240
papers and calculator

This is the cost for an average printer's energy usage in an average office, without counting paper and ink, which means yours could definitely be much higher. The more time you can keep your printer off, or at least in the sleep mode, the more efficient it will be and the more money you’ll save. This will also save on printer paper and toner, which represents significant savings for the company’s bottom line and the environment as well.

#2 - Optimise Your Lighting

LED light bulb

In a typical office, lighting will usually make up around a quarter of all electricity used. This tip is more than just about switching off lights when nobody is in the room, although that is very important too.

Just like at home, many people have yet to take advantage of new lighting technologies that can deliver some very real savings. Just by switching from incandescent light bulbs to LED and Compact Fluorescent lights, offices typically reduce their electricity bill by up to 25%, and all that for such little effort.

Another idea, relating to switching lights off when no-one is present, is to install motion sensor technology into conference and meeting rooms, so that lights turn on only when someone is there. These improvements will take the pressure away from relying on workers turning off lights when they leave the room, all for as little as £10 per fixture.

The final tip on this subject would be to always take advantage of natural light when possible. We’re always searching for the optimal lighting conditions for our optical health; however, a lot of the time, unless someone is in direct contact with the sun’s glare, this type of light can work better for everyone and can give the office a nicer atmosphere. This will easily contribute to further your energy efficiency.

#3 - Reduce Idle Appliances

It is not just the office printer that uses a considerable amount of needless energy whilst in standby and sleep mode. If you’re the sort of person that can make a habit of switching off appliances when they are not in use, then that’s great. Perhaps some creative signage may turn this into an incentive and other employees will take part in it too.

orange and blue energy bolts

Another viable alternative is installing timer switches. Timer switches are cheap and will automatically switch off your chosen appliances during certain hours, which will eliminate all costs within that time frame. When you pair them with energy efficient appliances, you will see significant improvements if ever you have an energy conservation audit.

#4 - Get the Temperature Right

A large percentage of offices in the UK are either too hot or too cold due to the overeliance and misuse of heaters and air conditioning units. This is commonly illustrated by staff fighting over the thermostat settings while wearing jumpers in summer or sweating and rolling up their sleeves in winter. Arguing over temperature costs British business £13 billion each year in lost hours of work.


You should aim to keep your room temperature between 20-21°C, , which is said to be the ideal temperature for office comfort and productivity. Anything below or above this is using an unnecessary amount of energy and can create an uncomfortable environment for everyone involved.

It is important to keep the programmable thermostat at consistent setting and avoid playing around with it as people come and go, doing so will conserve energy. This sort of small change can increase productivity and save the company hundreds of pounds in heating costs.

Thinking of the long term, checking the efficiency of the building insulation and HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system will let you identify potential ways to save on cooling and heating costs.

#5 - Get Your Computer Settings Right

Nowadays, computers are the central point of pretty much all office activity. Having an efficient computer is one of the key ways to save energy within the office, which is why you may want to take note of these tips and implement them for yourself to cut your energy bill down.

Computers spend the majority of the day in action and this is pretty impossible to change, but when they are not in action, like when we go for lunch, for example, most people just leave their computers active, using energy when it is not needed. This can be improved by adding a couple of energy saving measures, such as hibernation and sleep mode.

blue computer desktop

This will usually work on a inactive timer basis, which is ideal for when you leave your desk and totally forget to switch your machine off. Sleep and hibernation modes use considerably less energy than when the computer is fully active. This feature is available and can be set on all major operating systems as long as the computer in question is not performing mission-critical tasks.

If your office uses laptop computers, you are already one step ahead of the game: Desktop computers use much more energy than laptop computers, some up to 80% more. Laptops are optimised to use as little energy as possible for portability and battery life, but nobody ever said they can’t be used on a desk. Here are a few things to bear in mind if you do use a laptop at work or at home:

  • Laptops will tend to use less energy when they are not connected to a charging point. This is because performance drivers will generally reduce in order to conserve battery life.
  • According to HP, if you only use your laptop when it is connecting to a mains source, you should remove the battery pack from your computer, as this will prevent needless battery charging.
  • According to Apple, you should run your laptop on battery power from time to time to use less electricity. Apple has also managed to bring down their energy consumption down for their desktop computers with the Mac Mini model which boasts figures as low as 13W. This could arguably mean that the computer can pay for itself after a couple of years of daily workday use in terms of relative energy savings.

However, there is a new desktop-class of computer that brings together the energy savings advantage of laptops and the cheaper unit prices of desktop computers.

If you are nearing a new update cycle for your office computers, you may want to consider what Intel calls NUCs (Next Unit of Computing). These are essentially small desktop units that take up a tenth of the space of regular desktop computer and also consume up to 87% less electricity than their larger desktop counterparts.

#6 - Get the Latest Office Equipment

It is likely that if you have an old office or your business has been in operation for a large amount of time, your office will still be installed with quite a lot of non energy efficient equipment, meaning you are losing money on your energy bills for a needless cause.

blue computer desktop

The two main examples of this will be your heating and air conditioning units, which are commonly not optimised for energy efficiency. This is not only using more energy but it is damaging the environment and adding to your carbon footprint.

Now that we are more aware of our carbon impact, more attention is given to the efficiency level of the appliances we buy. A company that is dedicated to the verification of this, ‘Energy Star’, grants an international seal of approval for eligible consumer products.

If a product carries this mark, you can be sure that it will use between 20-30% less energy than what is required by US federal standards. As such, if you are thinking about replacing your office installations and appliances, you should think about buying things with the Energy Star seal of approval.

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