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Powering down at the office

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS account for 40% of the energy used in the U.S., and with energy costs on the rise, that’s a huge burden for business. But there are measures you can take to cut energy use in the office and save on your monthly bill. Greg Stiles, senior business sector manager with Portland-based Energy Trust of Oregon, a nonprofit dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, offers some suggestions.

1. It’s a myth that it takes more power to restart a computer that’s been shut down than to bring it out of sleep mode, Stiles says. Turn off computers at night or, better yet, invest in laptops, which use 90% less energy than
desktops. During the day, set internal controls to put the monitor to sleep after five minutes of inactivity and the entire hard drive after 15 minutes.

2. Encourage employees to regulate their own temperature by dressing appropriately rather than adjusting the thermostat. Stiles suggests setting the office temperature at 68 to 70 degrees in the winter and as high as 75 degrees in the summer.

3. Lose the water cooler. It takes a lot of energy to provide hot and chilled water on demand. Install a filter for tap water instead.

4. Assign someone to power down peripherals — copiers, faxes, scanners, etc.—at night. When it’s time to upgrade, look for Energy Star-certified products and models that enter sleep mode when not in use.

5. Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and switch out older T-12 tube lights with new high-performance T-8s. Painting walls a light color can help reflect light, and task lighting at each workstation can eliminate the need for overhead lights entirely.


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