You may have noticed that offices are sometimes cooled to a temperature that is colder than necessary to maintain comfort levels, and sometimes you need to put on an extra layer?
If you dress appropriately for the climate, and use a room fan, you’ll probably find that having the thermostat set at 27-28°C is enough to remove the humidity from the room and provide productive working conditions.
Air conditioning makes up at least 50% of your office’s power bills, and probably more, so this is a great place to start looking at reducing your costs and consumption.
Follow these tips to reduce air conditioning costs:
- Always dress appropriately for the hot and humid conditions. Wear light clothing of natural fibre
- Before turning on your air conditioner always turn on the fan and open up all of the windows and doors. Breezes from the outside and from fans evaporate moisture from your skin which keeps you cool.
- Trial turning the air conditioner’s thermostat up 1°C at a time and always run the fans as this will still cool you down by evaporating moisture from your skin. Every degree higher uses 10% less power
- Ask your manager/management team to start turning the air conditioners on later each day, to reduce the number of hours they are run.
- When the air conditioner is on, make sure the room/s are well sealed by closing all of the doors and windows and fix draught stoppers to the gaps under doors. When the air conditioner isn’t used open all of the doors and windows again to make sure there is good ventilation and air circulation in the office.
- Make sure the air conditioner is completely OFF when you leave the office each night. One air conditioner (non-inverter) left on after hours (including the weekends) can cost the organisation around $1800 extra per year in electricity bills.
- Reduce air conditioning costs by planning the time that your cleaners come into the office. For example arrange for the cleaners to start work soon after the staff have left for the evening. The temperature of your office space will not change very much once staff have left, and computers have been turned off, so it will remain relatively cool inside for after-hours staff. You can also use a timer on the unit as well so it automatically turns OFF after the cleaning shift.
- If not using air conditioners during the dry season you can ask your management team to turn them OFF at the power board to save on stand-by power.
Office spaces are used for around 35% of the week and so any lighting left on for the remaining 65% of the week is potentially wasting energy. As well as this some office spaces are over-lit and lights are left on in areas that are unused, or even when staff go out to lunch.
Good lighting does more than light an area. It can also reduce running costs, improve the working environment, improve workplace safety and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Follow these tips and start saving power on office lighting:
- To help you and your colleagues remember to turn off the lights, use SWITCH OFF! posters and stickers. SWITCH OFF lights in areas that are un-used during the day and lights that may be left on over night.
- Use natural lighting as much as possible
- Calculate the cost savings of replacing the existing lighting with energy efficient fittings (for example LED lights or fluorescent)
- Light areas appropriately for their use to avoid over-lighting. Use a Lux Meter to measure the illuminance of different areas around the office to see if they are over-lit. As a guide, the minimum recommended lux level for desk work spaces is 320 lumens and hallways are 80 lumens
- If there are double fluorescent fittings take one of the globes out and consider fitting the light with a reflector. You can also replace the remaining tube with a brighter triphosphor tube (which uses the same amount of energy), or even a quadphosphor tube.
- If your office has 1 switch for the entire floor and there are areas that are un-used, then take the lamps out of the fittings that are lighting the un-used space.
- Keep your office space feeling bright by avoiding dark painted walls. Move objects that reduce the amount of natural light entering the building.
At your Desk
Things like computers, monitors and other computer equipment left in stand-by mode over night are still consuming energy if they are not turned off at the wall. Stand-by power often makes up 10% of the office’s energy bill, but should make up 0%.
Follow these tips to save power at your desk:
- Use an Eco-Switch or a switchable power board at each desk to eliminate all stand-by power. These connect/disconnect all appliances at once from power sources.
- Set your computer and printing equipment for power saving mode, and ensure they are all SWITCHED OFF at the wall over night and on the weekends
- When you leave your desk turn off all lights and fans (even if you are only leaving for a short while). It is a myth that it takes more energy to turn these on again, even if leaving the room for just a few minutes.
- Consider using a desk lamp if you need extra lighting.
It is everyone’s responsibility to save power in the kitchen. Principals of saving power in the office’s kitchen may be very similar to the energy conservation choices you make in your household kitchen.
Follow these tips to save power in the kitchen:
- Put a timer on hot water boilers and water coolers so that they turn off every night and at the weekends. If staff numbers are low, consider turning these off altogether and using the kettle for boiling water and the fridge for cooling water.
- Assess the size and efficiency of the office fridge/s. When purchasing new fridges (and other kitchen appliances) always purchase energy efficient ones. The more stars it has the less energy it uses.
- Try to limit the number of fridges to 1 and ensure that the seals are intact and clean. Ensure it is not too close to the wall as it needs circulation around all sides.
- If there are mixer taps always ensure they are in the ‘cold’ position, not in the middle where it is using some hot water.
- Turn your hot water system OFF if it is not really needed. You can boil the kettle to get hot water for washing up. Or you can also adjust the thermostat on your hot water system to 60°C. If the dial is inaccessible a plumber can adjust this for you.
- If you have a solar hot water system ensure that the booster switch is OFF.
- Turn off all non-essential computer equipment
- Remind the last person out to SWITCH OFF lights and air conditioners when they leave. Make sure after-hours staff (for example cleaners) are SWITCHING OFF lights as well.
- Consider using timers on equipment to SWITCH OFF power after a certain time.
Tips for holiday shut down
- Remind staff to turn off their computers and monitors at the wall
- SWITCH OFF all unnecessary lighting and override automatic switch-ons
- Shutdown copiers, printers and scanners
- Check meeting rooms to ensure everything is off at the power points
- SWITCH OFF all kitchen appliances and equipment at the wall
- Clean out and SWITCH OFF the fridge