Stay efficient for the holidays

The winter holiday season is fast upon us! Although few businesses shut down completely in November and December, many offices do grow eerily quiet this time of year as employees take vacation time to spend the holidays with their families. Partially occupied offices offer wonderful opportunities for energy savings. Here are a few ideas for reducing your energy consumption and energy bills during the holiday season.

  • Adjust thermostats. Heating is a major overhead cost for most companies, and when offices are partly or completely empty, an unnecessary one. Sure, a certain level of heat is needed to keep the pipes from freezing (Burst pipes are decidedly not efficient.), but there’s no need to maintain a space for occupancy if there are no occupants. If your business shuts down for the holidays, or if many of your employees take vacation, lower thermostat set-points and save energy. But provide space heaters or permit temporary overrides for any workers who may need to come in.
  • Heat spatially. If your layout permits, consider heating only a portion of the office during the holidays and closing off the rest of the space. Concentrate employees in one comfortably heated area, and maintain the rest of the building at a lower temperature.
  • Adjust lighting. There’s no reason for the lights to stay on when no one’s home. Workers who do come in during the holidays may be more likely to arrive after sunrise and leave before sunset than they do at other times of the year, so consider turning overhead lights off and providing individual task lamps for employees who need them.
  • Put your machines to sleep. Except for mission-critical resources like servers, most computers can be safely turned off when not in use. Equipment like printers, copiers, and fax machines, which may or may not be needed, can usually be put into an energy-saving sleep mode and awoken only as needed.
  • Close the doors and windows. In buildings with sub-optimal heating systems, some occupants end up too hot in order to keep others from getting too cold. When this happens, the toasted individuals are likely to open doors and windows, but they don’t always remember to shut them! Make sure that openings remain closed, especially large openings like loading dock doors.

Energy efficiency doesn’t have to mean heroic efforts. Even relatively minor changes can make a big difference. When your office goes quiet this holiday season, seize the opportunity and save money for the new year!