The Benefits of a Sustainable Workplace
Energy efficiency management at work requires looking into how air conditioners are used, as they can be a significant portion of your energy consumption. This is especially true during a heat wave. The AC likely drives up your energy consumption continuously during the day at peak electricity rates. When the bill comes in a month later, it becomes an unpleasant surprise that likely gets you to start thinking about the value of energy efficiency management.
This situation can be avoided. You can lower your AC’s energy consumption by following these 4 energy management tips:
1) Get a new thermostat.
Thermostats these days are sophisticatedly designed to meet your needs. They can be easily programmed to manage your energy consumption. From an energy management perspective, it is worthwhile to buy a more energy-efficient one.
You can have several settings in the day, seven days a week. You can program the thermostat to be energy-efficient by setting a higher temperature when there are fewer people at work during weekends and evenings, and setting a lower temperature when everybody is at work. People are more productive in cooler, but not cold, temperatures. If you find people are wearing coats or sweaters at their desks, then the AC temperature is too cold and your energy consumption is unnecessarily wasteful. This means you can start achieving your energy efficiency goals just by raising the temperature!
You may find “hot spots”, or “cold spots” in your company’s workplace, and this may require an expert to determine best air circulation.
2) Ask your landlord to regularly clean the air intakes, and AC filters.
Air conditioners are less energy-efficient when their filters are dirty. Ask your landlord how often and what type of maintenance is done on your AC unit. To optimize your energy management, maintenance should be done on a quarterly basis.
The ceiling air intakes should also be cleaned regularly to maintain maximum energy efficiency for your AC. This may be your responsibility, or your landlord’s, but it is worthwhile finding out.
You may consider getting a new AC unit that is quieter and more energy-efficient. Most power distribution companies offer rebates on your energy consumption upon the purchase of a new AC unit.
3) Cover your windows.
In the summer, the heat will enter your Company’s workplace from the windows, so cover them! At my company, all the windows have blinds, which are energy-efficient. As one of our energy management measures, we keep the blinds down during the summer except for the bottom quarter of the window just to let some natural light in. This makes a huge difference in keeping the office much cooler and more comfortable.
If an additional window barrier is needed, optimizing your energy management may require a second set of blinds for added insulation.
Consider keeping the area around the windows free of private offices. AC units in private offices with a window can lower your energy efficiency and drive up your energy consumption, as these rooms can get as hot as ovens! Modern space design maximizes the natural light coming into your workplace for everybody to enjoy, and it also ensures better air circulation for your AC. This translates into lower energy costs, and a more pleasant, energy-efficient work environment. By aiming for energy efficiency, you get to save money lowering energy consumption AND you become more productive!
4) Use LED lights.
LED lights generate far less heat than incandescent or fluorescent lightbulbs (CFC). If the lights generate less heat, then the energy consumption of your AC for your desired temperature is lower than with other kinds of light bulbs.
Take a look around your workplace and jumpstart your energy efficiency management by getting rid of your light bulbs that are not energy-efficient, such as incandescent and halogen light bulbs. The first thing I noticed about LED light bulbs is that they do not get hot. The reason they are better for energy efficiency management is that they use less power and they convert 95% of that power to light. This equates to only 5% of that power being wasted as heat. If you don't have LED lightbulbs, which in my opinion is the most energy-efficient, get timer light switches so that lights are automatically turned off when there is no motion in the room.
A not-so-well-known energy efficiency tip is to replace or paint your ceiling tiles white, and to paint your walls a lightly tinted white to maximize the light distribution in your company’s workspace. We did this, and it created a more pleasant work environment. The natural light coming in means we didn’t have to turn on the lights until later in the day.
You don’t need to wait for your energy consumption to surprise you with an expensive bill before realizing you should pay more attention to energy management. These energy management tips are simple conservation measures that save you money and improve your company’s bottom line.
FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) helps organizations recognize business drivers for sustainability practices and offers cost-effective sustainability management solutions. FCS provides guidance on industry best practices and can help you with your sustainability programs. For more information on other sustainability solutions, read this article from our monthly newsletter, GreenWatch.