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?
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
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