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10 Top Tips for Energy Efficiency around the Office



Office by J Unrau via flickr

The advice below will help to reduce energy consumption around the office

1. Labelling the Light Switches

Labelling the light switches might appear insignificant but it is particularly important for any multiple light switches. People often come into the office and switch on all the lights since nobody has ever paid close attention to the switch that actually operates the lights. Labelling the switches using stick-on labels helps in identifying lights that can be switched off when nobody is working in that area or on sunny days.

2. Switching Off the Lights in Occupied Rooms & the Installation of Sensors

Most offices usually have photocopier rooms, store rooms, kitchens, and archive stores. Use “Turn off this light” stickers to label switches and get everybody into the practice of switching off the lights once they leave. Installing occupancy sensors is the next step, which can be simple wall-plate replacements. Occupancy sensors are especially useful for toilets, where we have witnessed an eighty percent reduction in lighting use. Ensure that they are properly placed.

3. Lights Off – Blinds Up

Many offices usually leave the blinds shut all day particularly due to the early morning glare. Whenever possible, open the blinds to allow the sun to shine in then switch the lights off.

4. Retrofitting Lamps Whenever Possible

You can do two easy retrofit solutions for your lights. The first one involves replacing 50W tungsten halogen spotlights with LED spotlights. The LED spotlights might appear to cost a lot but the hassle and cost of perpetually replacing blown lamps quickly repays the outlay. The second one involves using “T8 to T5” converters on fluorescent lighting. Here you simply swap out the wide diameter T8 (0.75”) tubes for an electronic gizmo and a T5 (5/8”) tube. You will enjoy savings of about 20 to 40 percent of electricity depending on the hours of use and size of tube. LED strip lamps are increasingly becoming affordable especially for round-the-clock use. Complete lighting refit might cost more than retrofits but usually pays back in about 4 years.

5. Sleepy PCs

When leaving for home after work, either turn off your screen, put your computer to sleep (hibernation), or switch it off. If the IT department does not allow this, have them install a centralized PC shutdown system like “Nightwatchman”. Such systems easily pay for themselves in terms of energy savings. Ensure that all other office equipment such as projectors, display TVs, faxes, photocopiers, and printers are all set to energy saver mode. You can even use timers to make it easier to switch off during weekends and overnight. Switch off desk-lamp transformers, laptop and phone chargers when not in use.

6. Increasing the Temperature in the Server Room

Cooling IT equipment is critical for keeping it operating normally. However, the common practice since back in the day was to keep it around 18 C all year round. If you walk into most of the server rooms the chill will be apparent. Keeping these rooms cool uses a lot of electricity. However, the IT equipment of today is much more robust than that of the 1970s. ASHRAE recommendations give a humidity and temperature range accepted by the IT community. The recommendation is between 18 and 27 degrees C meaning that a central set-point of 25.5 with a range of +/- 1.5 degrees is probably appropriate for reducing energy significantly. New guidelines are expected that will allow for even higher temperatures for some servers and their displays. Obviously, the closer to the top of the temperature range that you can reach, the less the energy that will be required for chilling.

7. Understanding Heating Controls

Office heating is usually zoned and remote controlled. Make a plan of your office then mark the thermostats that control particular zones. Let the people know the thermostats that operate their heating and how they work.

8. Getting To Know Your Energy Manager

Build a friendship with your facilities or energy manager (whoever controls the Building Energy Management System). Inquire about the set points and times they have and seek how together you can shave a couple of minutes here and there. Some of the larger organizations often have Heating Policies provided to all employees stating the set times and temperatures for cooling and heating.

9. Air Conditioning Dead-band

Ensure that the air conditioning system is not actually fighting your heating. You should have a “dead-band” of between 19 and 24 C where there is neither cooling nor heating. This ensures that the regularly encountered lunacy of cooling and heating simultaneously never happens. You could also call for the installation of window interlocks on the air conditioning system by the powers that be to ensure that once the windows are opened, the air con switches off. Failing to do so means that you are attempting to cool the entire world.

10. Kitchens

Check the fridge. If it resembles an iceberg inside, you need to get a new A+++ refrigerator and recycle the 1980’s unit with no icebox cover. Have timers on the “ambient” drink machines to ensure that they are off during the weekends and overnight. Replace the boiler or kettle with an instant boiling water dispenser.



Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

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?

Homegrown 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.

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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:

Financial Advising

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.

Life Insurance

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.

Health Insurance

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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