The Cost of Wasteful Power Use

Cost of Wasteful PowerMore and more businesses today are realizing the importance of saving energy and taking steps to conserve. However, even with the best of intentions, many organizations still waste power. Particularly for a large company, there are hundreds of ways they may be consuming excess energy of which they’re not aware. And that energy can end up costing them, without their even realizing it.

Ways Organizations Waste Power

Many companies are replacing their buildings’ wasteful, incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, which operate much more efficiently and can last for years. However, those same buildings will leave their energy-saving lights on 24 hours a day, whether anyone is on the premises or not. A few low wattage emergency lights should be used to illuminate the paths to the exits, but other than that, a building’s lights should all be powered down once it closes for the day.

Similarly, many employees will leave their computers on all night, to make it easier to jump back into a project the next morning. Or they’ll leave them running during the day, even if they’re going to lunch, or spending the next two hours in a meeting. This sort of individual employee behavior can be difficult for a large company with multiple buildings to regulate, but it can end up costing them a lot of money — anywhere from $50 to $150+ per device that remains in use. Official company policy might be to set computers to go to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity, and for all computers, printers, and copiers to be turned off entirely at the end of the night.

Even after adopting conservationist habits, however, both for individuals and the organization as a whole, there’s still the problem of energy vampires to contend with. Energy vampires are appliances that continue to use power even if they’ve been turned off. Computers are major offenders in this regard, as are televisions and device chargers. Even the microwave and coffeemaker in a company’s break room are draining energy while idle. Anything with a digital clock or an indicator light on it is an energy vampire.

In individual homes, the way to combat these energy vampires is to unplug them. Adopting this as a company policy, however, would be difficult to enforce. Fortunately, there are power strips that can automatically cut the power to an individual device as soon as it’s turned off. Or, if there’s a device that needs to be left on, such as a laser printer, it can be plugged into a special outlet on the strip that provides it with continuous electricity, while still cutting power to other devices on the same strip. This way, companies can conserve that energy without even having to think about it.

Ways Organizations Can Save Power

Addressing the individual causes of wasteful power usage is only the first step in saving energy. It’s also important to be proactive and implement policies that stem energy use at the source. This means finding ways not only to reduce the power being used by appliances within the organization, but to reduce the need for those appliances.

For instance, the single biggest drain on most buildings’ energy use is heating and cooling. To combat this, many organizations invest in energy-efficient HVAC systems, which can keep buildings comfortable for less energy and less money. But those organizations can reduce those costs even more by putting in a few deciduous trees around the building, such as oaks or elms. In the summer, they provide shade, which helps to cool the building naturally, reducing the need for air conditioning. In the winter, they lose their leaves, letting in the sunlight to warm the building, thus reducing the need for heating.

Companies can also reduce energy use by creating functional outdoor areas. By putting in a few outdoor tables and chairs, along with some greenery, employees can have a place to eat lunch or even hold meetings outside, thus saving the energy they would have used, had they taken up a room indoors.

Wasting power costs much more than most organizations realize. Not only does it waste huge amounts of money, it also increases their carbon footprint and ultimately damages the environment, making it a high cost not only for them, but for everyone. With just a little vigilance, however, companies can become more aware of that wastefulness in all of its forms. And with a little creativity, they can find ways to eliminate it, and reduce the cost of their power use significantly.

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