Most people agree that conserving resources and saving energy is a good thing. We may have a recycling box and energy saving lightbulbs at home, and are super careful about not having the heating on any more than necessary. Lower energy bills are a great motivator, of course, as is the feeling of doing our bit to combat climate change. Couldn’t we do the same at the office?
With over 10 million office workers in the UK and the vast majority of our working week spent at the office, just think how much impact could be made if we adopted environmentally responsible behaviours at work.
Sadly, many offices make no more than a token effort to go green. Government legislation and regulations are primarily aimed at hazardous and industrial waste, with no formal pressure put on offices to even recycle – leaving it up to individual organisations to put environmental policies in place if they so choose.
From the actual floor space of your office rental, to simpler efforts like turning off equipment at night or questioning ‘do I need to print this’ – a little effort goes a long way when it comes to going green. So, if you want your office to make a concerted effort to become environmentally responsible, while reaping the financial benefits of saving energy – here are 3 areas where implementing simple changes should bring real rewards.
Did you realise that the energy used to power a computer monitor that’s left on overnight equates to the same amount of energy needed to laser print 800 pages? A photocopier left on all night wastes enough energy to print 1,500 copies. Here’s an easy win: make sure all computer equipment, including printers, photocopiers and scanners, is switched off at the end of every working day.
Of course, the convenience of office printers and photocopiers lies in the fact that they are available on demand. Newer energy saving models are available that automatically switch into stand-by mode when not in use, meaning up to 60% of energy can be saved during the working day, reducing electricity bills. If your office machines currently don’t have this feature, think about making automatic stand-by power consumption a priority when you next upgrade your hardware.
For small offices, consider the possibility of a multi-functioned machine that can print, copy and scan. With only one piece of equipment using power instead of 3 individual devices, the cost savings and lower environmental impact through the entire lifecycle of the machine are inarguably massive.
- Paper use
Did you know that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, of which 6,800 sheets are wasted? According to recent statistics, every person in Britain consumes the equivalent of 4.48 trees every year. Those are truly shocking figures.
When it comes to printing and copying documents in the office, it’s worth asking yourself each time: is it really necessary or would an electronic copy or email be sufficient? And if you do need a hardcopy, could it be printed double sided, or at half size? Reducing the amount of paper used in the office not only makes good financial sense, it literally saves trees.
Paper recycling should be another easy win. However, unlike at home, where local councils will supply recycling boxes and organise regular disposal, companies generally need to take independent measures for this to happen. Rather than having to comply with regulations, it’s largely left up to individual businesses to put a recycling policy in place. As a minimum, your company should have a paper recycling box and
- Reuse paper for general use in the office, thereby saving on notepads and scrap paper. Many printers (check with manufacturers’ guidelines) will be happy to print on the other side, which is perfectly adequate for internal draft printouts.
- Recycle all paper containing sensitive information. Shredded documents can be used for compost or donated to pet stores or animal shelters as bedding.
- Lighting and heating
Were you aware that leaving the office lights on overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of tea? According to a recent survey, 94% of us turn the lights off at home to cut energy costs, but only 66% are bothering to do the same at the office. Again, the solution is, literally, blindingly obvious: ask the last person to leave the office to switch off the lights!
Electric heaters are notorious for gobbling up electricity, but you may not have realised that they also generate twice the amount of greenhouse gas compared to central heating. If you have electric heating at the office, it’s worth thinking about upgrading.
If your office is centrally heated, when was the last time anyone checked the central heating thermostat? Overheating the office by only few degrees each day could mean thousands of pounds a year spent on wasted energy. Did you know that by turning the thermostat down by just 1 degree can knock 10% off the cost of heating the office? And the best bit is you won’t even notice the difference in temperature!
There’s a lot of talk about ‘smart meters’ at the moment – they display how much energy your office is consuming and transmit the information directly to your energy supplier. If you’re keen to lower your office energy consumption, this information may be very useful. What’s more, it may give you a clearer idea of whether you’re paying over the odds for your energy bills, motivating you to switch suppliers in order to cut costs.
Many people assume creating an environmentally friendly office will be expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. Even small changes such as draught proofing door strips, heat saving window blinds and energy saving lightbulbs can make a real difference. Obviously, the more eco friendly measures have been taken, the lower your office energy bills will be. The Carbon Trust suggests that savings cut potentially be as much as 65%. Surely, that’s a cost saving that no business can afford to ignore?
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!