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Power down

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Energy conservation at work saves resources, slows climate change and leaves the boss with more money for your bonus!

The cost of energy is rising and the effects of pollution increasing.

Many people waste energy at work in ways they would never consider doing at home. People leave their computers on overnight, leave rooms with the lights on, don't adjust the setting on their equipment to save power and as a consequence, tonnes of greenhouse gases are emitted.

But with a few tweaks to our daily work routine we can cut our energy use at work by about one-third.

How to do it now!

These easy-to-do steps will prevent tonnes of CO2 being emitted into the environment:

  1. Turn off your computer when you leave. By switching your PC off when you go home, you'll stop approx 500kg of CO2 being emitted per annum. Try turning off your computer when you go to lunch or whenever you are away from your desk for 15 minutes or more to save even more power.
  2. Get your PC settings right. Most computers have power management controls. In Windows these are found in the Display Properties/Screensaver tab (right click on your desktop to bring up Display Properties). Activate and adjust your settings to:
    • switch off the monitor after 15 minutes.
    • turn off the hard drive and go to system standby after 30 minutes.
    • hibernate after 2 hours.

    In addition, turn off your screen saver, as they generally use more energy than they save.

  3. Ensure all equipment and appliances use power save modes. All computers, printers, fax machines, and copiers currently in use are Energy Star certified for energy efficiency, with 'power-down' modes and other energy-saving features.
  4. Turn lights and equipment off when you're finished using them. Switch off unnecessary lights and equipment as you would at home, even if they are on a sensor system. One fluorescent tube releases one kilogram of greenhouse gas every 15 hours!
  5. Use natural light where possible. Arrange your office and working spaces to take best advantage of natural light and keep the lights off while you work (lighting can account for up to 20 per cent of the energy used in our offices).
  6. Dress appropriately for the season. By wearing a jumper in winter you can turn your heating thermostat down a couple of degrees (say to 20° Celsius) and save a lot of energy.
  7. Use cold water where possible. When rinsing out your coffee cup, use cold water instead and save the energy used to heat water unnecessarily.
  8. Shut off the power at night. Many hardware stores now sell powerboards which have a remote control on-off switch, so you can now turn off the stand-by-power of systems without having to climb under the TV or sound system to do so.

In addition to the above actions - ones everyone can do - try working with your managers to further reduce the energy use of your workplace. Here are some ideas:

  1. Have an energy audit done to identify further energy savings. An investment in an energy audit helps save the planet - and will almost definitely save you money over the long term.
  2. Purchase green power. How about using all the savings from the actions already mentioned to switch to renewable electricity? (See our Buy Renewable Electricity action)
  3. Go carbon neutral. Set a stretch goal of becoming carbon neutral. Consult an energy audit, reduction and offset experts and make it real for your organisation.

Additional resources

Why is this action important?

In order for humans to move towards sustainability, we must become more efficient in our use of energy in all aspects of our lives. This action cuts a significant chunk out of the energy use in an average workplace through simple behavioural change and use of existing technology - and it generates long-term returns (financial, environmental and intergenerational).