How can I reduce the energy wasted in my office?

radiatorWe’ve had an email from Lynda:

How can I get my colleagues to waste less energy without being seen as a nag? Everyone always turns the heating on instead of bringing a jumper and then when it gets too hot, they open a window instead of turning the heating down! It drives me mad!

It would drive me mad too but AT LEAST they’re opening a window instead of cranking up the air conditioning at the same time as the heating ;)

When I used to work full time in an office, I always made sure I had a cardigan over the back of my chair for those chilly days – but it’s not like you can forceably wrap an office-mate in a woolly when the temperature drops.

I’d possibly try talking to management about it – in a general way rather than tattle-tailing. If you’re in a small company, you can appeal to them on a financial level since all that wasted energy is wasted money. Bigger companies might not care about that because it’s such a small proportion of their turnover – but most big companies have an environmental policy now and that might sway them.

Of course getting management on board doesn’t mean that the rest of the staff will comply and in some places, a management decree will do the opposite… so what else could Lynda try?

Has anyone had any experience of encouraging reluctant colleagues to change their ways? What works without getting people’s backs up? What doesn’t?

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10 Responses to “How can I reduce the energy wasted in my office?”

  1. Claire Sale says:

    You could ban suits and ties in the office!

    Government offices in Bangladesh have banned them in order to encourage people to wear more weather appropriate clothing to work. Seriously! (Here’s an article about it:

    That’ll get people’s attention!

  2. Nicole says:

    I was able to get my office to stop purchasing styrofoam cups. Instead, every pantry was stocked with company logo mugs for coffee and tea. Also, disposable plastic cutlery was replaced with cheap-nobody-would-want-to-steal cutlery. Both the mugs and cutlery are washed in the dishwasher.

  3. Kacy says:

    Sometimes the best you can do is lead by example. When someone asks you why you put on a sweater instead of cranking up the heat, you can gently let them know how you feel about energy waste. After coworkers asked why I take cans home, I explained that not only do I recycle them, but I earn money doing it. Some didn’t care, some started recycling at home too, and some started bringing me their cans. Every little bit helps.

  4. Alice says:

    Find the thermostat and turn that down – then the heating just won’t heat so much even when it’s on.

  5. Bobbie says:

    Start a “Save a Penguin” campaign. Posters displayed near places where windows and thermostats are located. A little humor makes a people more compliant as they have a choice..e.g. to save a penguin or not.

  6. I love Bobbie’s penguin idea. Perhaps you could suggest an Energy Audit to management. It would have to be a voluntary project conducted as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility Programme. Everyone will have to participate and spend half an hour listing all the appliances and light fittings in their unit/department, how many hours they are switched on a day, and how much energy they consume (kWh). Then compile the data and issue a list of zero-cost actions they can take to bring energy consumption down. You can normally get help from environmental organisations for this. Make colourful reminder notes (like Bobbie’s penguin idea) to stick over light switches, computer monitors, printers, etc. At the end of 3 months, calculate the difference in energy consumed. If the office has managed to bring the energy use down by 20%, whole office gets a nice lunch treat! I did this for a former office and the Bar Council building. I was surprised to see people actually getting enthusiastic about saving energy not because of the prize involved, but because they finally learned the environmental and social cost of energy generation, transmission and use.

  7. metakyuubi says:

    We pour the kettle full of water, boil it once and then throw the water into a flask. We really save a lot of energy this way.

  8. VA says:

    Start a “Save a Penguin” campaign. Posters displayed near places where windows and thermostats are located. A little humor makes a people more compliant as they have a choice..e.g. to save a penguin or not.

  9. Graham Cliff says:

    I am a nanotechnologist. However my hobby is astronomy. Light pollution, caused by unnecessary light at night, is destroying our birthright, our heritage of the wonders of the night sky. Kids today think stars are movie SFX, few can see the Milky Way. What I know about the energy wasted by LAN however is frightening me because of its implications concerning that LAN that obscures that Milky Way. As a nanotechnologist I know the harm being done by sub micron aerosol particulates. The “hidden” harm of light at night, as described in many web sites, is a warning that we may well be too late – much too late?
    Ignore the “hidden”harm of light at night going to waste and we face a dreadful future. Like passive smoking and exposure to asbestos (like that from the WTC tower collapse), the harm may very well already have been done? Learn the future implications of what we ALL may well face?

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