‘Tis the season to be jolly, but don’t be one of the UK businesses that waste around £9 million every Christmas by leaving the fairy lights on! No one’s saying you have to be Scrooge, though turning down that office thermostat by just one degree will save money and encourage your staff to get their Christmas jumpers on. However, the festive season can prove energy-costly.
Here are some top tips to make sure that you don’t return to the office after the New Year to a monster headache caused by excessive energy bills.
- Switch it off
Standby is a well-known energy hog – equipment could still be using nearly 90% of its normal consumption. Monitors are the worst culprits, accounting for 50% of a computer’s energy use. Remind all staff to switch off before they leave for their Christmas break, but make sure you do a sweep of the office just to make sure, or use simple standby savers that can switch everything off at the click of a remote control. Remember that leaving one computer switched on could produce enough C02 to fill three life-size inflatable Santas!
It’s not only essential equipment that needs to be switched off – don’t forget the non-essential items like kettles, fridges and microwaves. Vending machines can gobble up £120 a year in energy costs. If there are likely to be staff in the building over the Christmas holidays, make sure you leave a kettle for a hot drink and ask politely if it can be unplugged after use.
- Avoid a big freeze
Once everyone’s gone home for the holidays, turn down the heating to the bare minimum or change to a frost-free setting to avoid any pipes bursting if there’s a big freeze. This might be a good opportunity to have heating equipment serviced to ensure it’s running at maximum efficiency and take a look at pipe insulation so you can rest assured you won’t have any problems.
If you have any space heaters anywhere in the building, make sure those are unplugged too – otherwise you’ll be burning enough C02 to fill 77 inflatable Santas!
- Be water-aware
Now’s the time to check all the plumbing, because those leaky taps can cost money if they’re allowed to drip away all over Christmas. Worst still, if a tap’s left on you could waste a colossal 3,500 litres of water in a week. Invest in a circulation pump so you have hot water on demand and staff don’t leave taps running while they wait for hot water and then forget about them.
- Turn off the lights
Are all your office lighting and desk lamps are equipped with energy-saving LED bulbs? If not, do it now and you’ll start making big savings before Christmas. Make sure you have the right bulb for the right fitting and you’ll save even more. And then switch everything off when the last employee leaves for the Christmas break. Lighting the average office overnight uses enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of coffee! And you don’t want to choose wasted energy over that first thing in the morning coffee, do you?
If you need to leave lights on for security purposes, make sure they’re on a timer. Timer plugs are cheap and effective, and they save you money on your energy bills.
- Goodbye fairy lights
It’s an office tradition: the Christmas jumpers, the Christmas tree, the tinsel and of course the fairy lights – hundreds and hundreds of them. The easy win here is to switch to LED lights, which use 90% less energy than incandescent lights. In fact, if every home and office switched just one set of incandescents for LEDS, we’d save £13 million over the 12 days of Christmas alone!
Putting the lights on a timer plug is a sensible idea when the office is manned, but leaving fairy lights – however pretty they look – lit in the office when there’s no one there is a fire risk. So don’t risk office safety just for the sake of a few twinkly bulbs.
- Be energy-efficient all year round
Of course, any of these energy-saving tips could be used in your office all year round, because it pays to be energy-aware at any time of year. And there are some simple things you can do in the New Year to keep those utility bills at a minimum.
- Keep heating bills to a minimum by turning the heating down in corridors and storerooms that aren’t frequently used.
- Search out and draught-proof gaps in windows and doors: your employees will be more comfortable and you’ll save on energy bills.
- Switch lights off when a room is no longer in use, and use lighting appropriately in meeting rooms and at desks.
- Switch off monitors and make sure all computers use power-saving settings.
- When equipment needs replacing, opt for the most energy-efficient replacement, from printers to kettles.
- Investigate alternative energy sources like solar to help your business go off-grid.
So make energy-efficiency your New Year’s resolution. Merry Christmas!