Energy efficiency in our workplace

Energy efficiency in our workplace

As this week is Big Energy Saving Week, we decided to carry out a brief audit on the energy use in our office, in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint as a business. An effort we are going full steam ahead with this year, with a number of initiatives and products in the works... (more to come on this!)

Most of the information available online in relation to energy efficiency covers the home, but there isn’t too much out there on the workplace. So, we’ve collated our own energy use on the devices and appliances we use as an example of what a typical small-to-medium business uses. Last year, we consumed in total 6800 kw/h in electricity and 2200 kw/h in gas.

A quick audit of the office revealed we had the following:

  1. Computer server
  2. Laptops
  3. Strip lights
  4. Printer/scanner
  5. Fridge
  6. Microwave
  7. Kettle
  8. Electric hand dryer

Computer server

This product is aDell PowerEdge T110 and it consumes just 38w per hour. The server is on 24/7, however it doesn’t form a significant proportion of our total energy use – at only 5%. And costing us £59.76 per year.

As mentioned in a previous blog post on the digital impact on the environment, servers are actually a major source of carbon emissions. So, if you are in the market for a new server, it might be worth doing a bit of research into servers and where exactly they acquire their energy from.

Our server is still functioning and isn’t costing us too much financially or energy wise. But, if you still have an old server, then it’s definitely worth looking into replacing or upgrading it. Older servers are a lot more energy hungry and have less efficient cooling systems. It’s said that a server should be upgraded every 5 years for a small-to-medium business. When upgrading your server, look out for the ones specified by Energy Star, as they pride themselves on energy efficiency.

Laptops

Our laptops are the Levona B50-5013 model and we have 11 that are actively used. So, it’s no surprise then that laptops are our second largest category for energy use, at 14.8% of the total energy use. And costing us £181 per year.

Some things that can be done to lower the energy consumption of laptops:

  • Disconnect any external devices when not in use
  • Adjust your laptop’s energy settings
  • Shutdown and unplug your laptop when not in use
  • Only use a charger when actually charging your laptop

Lights

We have 58w 5ft Phillips strip lights in our office, and we have 60 of these in total. We’ve estimated that 60% of these lights are on for 9 hours a day for 252 days a year, costing us a total of £852 per year. The lights are by far our most energy hungry appliance at 70% of our total energy use, and most expensive, and something we definitely need to change.

We have spoken to our local electrical wholesaler, who has advised we can reduce this use by up to a whopping 80% if we had LED lighting instead. The investment needed would be around £500, but would give us a £681 saving in a payback period of just 8 months. A win win for us and the planet!

Printer/scanner

We have the Samsung CLX 4195FN model printer, which uses 300 watts in active use, 50 when on standby, and 2.5 in its sleep mode. It only forms 0.5% of our total energy use, costing us £7.03 per year. We try to only print essential documents to cut down on our paper use, so at most this device would be active around 20 minutes a day.

This is an Energy Star specified device and offers good efficiency, but we were wasting energy leaving the printer on in sleep mode overnight. So, we will now be turning this device completely off at the end of the day to save energy on this device.

Fridge

The fridge we have is on all day throughout the whole year, based on a temperature setting of 3 degrees. It uses 130 kw/h per year, which is 1.9% of our total energy use. And this seems to be the standard when it comes to fridges.

One change that we will be making in relation to the fridge is the installation of a timer so that it turns off at weekends, and can be turned off over the Christmas break.

Microwave

We estimate that 5 meals are heated for around 2 mins per day. And so, even though it’s a 1kw appliance, it’s actually only active for around 10 mins per day. Again, this is another appliance that uses minimal energy, only 0.6% of our total energy use. No changes to be made here.

Kettle

We are an office of tea and coffee lovers, and on average we each have around 2 cups a day, with the kettle taking 1 minute to boil with each use. Therefore, the kettle is boiled around 4 times per day. It only makes up 0.4% of our total energy use, so we don’t need to change anything really.

However, as mentioned in our eco-friendly tips and hacks, we have put up a sign to encourage staff to use the correct amount of water, which could cut up to 25% of the energy use, whilst also saving on water!

Hand dryers

When it comes to hand dryers, we definitely know a thing or two! And so, we already have a very energy efficient model fitted in our bathroom. On average, a person will go to the loo 4.5 times during an 8-hour shift. Our hand dryers use 2 watts per hour per dryer, so in our office the hand dryer uses 20.42 kw/h, costing us £3.67 per year. This makes up 4.5% of our total energy use each year.

It is worth mentioning though that if you still have a traditional hand dryer, it will be wasting far more energy than you would expect. It actually could be using 30 watt/hours per use, at a cost of £55 per year! And yes, having hand or paper towels would reduce your energy bill, but it does not make financial or environmental sense as a drying option.

We provide free carbon/energy audits, which comes with no obligation to buy hand dryers from us, it simply informs you and your organisation as to whether there is a clear business, as well as environmental, case for making the switch.

Summary

Overall, the biggest changes and savings are:

  • Lighting – Switching to LED lighting is definitely going to be the biggest saving we will make in our workplace.
  • Hand dryer – This could easily be one of your biggest wins. The difference between an inefficient model and an efficient model is far greater than any savings to be made by replacing your printer for example.
  • Fridge – This appliance is not necessary at the weekends or during the Christmas period, so by using a timer and regulating the temperature, there are some savings to be had here also.
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