How can I reduce energy usage in my office?
It's not just homeowners who are feeling the pinch of rising electricity prices at the moment, as businesses are also footing higher bills.
However, as a business owner there are various steps you can take to reduce your energy usage, which in turn should result in lower bills and allow you to spend on other areas of your company.
Avoid standby mode
It can be all too tempting to leave appliances on standby mode when you leave the office at the end of the day, but the fact is this can lead you to spend more on your bills than necessary.
The same goes for weekends - make sure everyone switches off their own computer fully before they head home. Put up signs around the office to act as reminders.
You'll need to do the same for photocopiers, fax machines and any other hardware you might have lying around the place.
Choose efficient appliances
From the kettle your team use to make their morning coffee to the photocopier they use, it's essential that you only ever buy the most efficient appliances.
The great news is there are plenty of options available these days - and their prices are coming down too.
Look for those with a high energy star rating and you can't go far wrong. Manufacturers have also made it easier for you to compare products on a like-for-like basis.
Train your staff
It's all well and good if you know how to be more energy efficient in the office, but your staff will need to do the same if there's going to be any noticeable different.
Running regular training sessions on what needs to be done is a good idea, or you might want to think about getting in an expert to give your staff food for thought.
This can cover everything from not boiling too much water in the kettle to making sure they switch their monitor off at night - the options are endless.
Make the most of natural light
If there are plenty of windows in your office then make sure you use them effectively. There's no point in putting the lights on if there's sunlight that can do the same job for free.
This means thinking carefully about your window coverings. Blinds are a great way of letting the light in and keeping the office warm or cool whenever you need it.
A bright and airy colour scheme can also help, as it'll help reflect light around the space more effectively than darker shades.
Only print when necessary
Printing is something that uses both energy and ink, so make sure your staff know only to do it when they absolutely have to. Will a digital version of the document suffice instead?
Putting a reminder on internal emails asking people to think twice before printing them is a good place to start and you might want to think about putting a sign above the printer itself.
If a document does need to be printed then avoid using colour when you can - black ink is much more economical.
If you have heating and air conditioning systems in your office, it's important you get them serviced on a regular basis.
This will ensure they stay in full working order and not to mention run as efficiently as possible, which should help bring down your electricity prices.
Filters can become blocked and all sorts of other problems can arise unless you schedule regular maintenance.
Switch energy supplier
Businesses that regularly find themselves paying over the odds for their gas and electricity could benefit from switching to a new energy supplier.
There are various tariffs available that it's important to weigh them up and establish which are best suited to the needs of your company.
Negotiating a better deal could make a big difference to your bottom line, so it's worth investing some time in doing research.
Change to laptops
Laptops use considerably less energy than standard PCs, so you might want to think about using them in your office.
They also have the added benefit of being transportable, so staff can take all the information they need to meetings and even home with them if they need to.
Laptops can run off battery power, which should reduce your reliance on a mains electricity supply.
Turn down the thermostat
No matter whether you're heating or cooling down your home, turning the temperature down a degree can have a big impact on your bills.
The chances are most people won't notice the difference, but over time it should mean you're paying less for your gas and electricity.
During the hotter months of the year, you might want to think about opening windows and creating a draught to cool your office down, rather than relying on air conditioning.
Posted by Tim Wolfenden