How can we cut energy use by office equipment?

In a typical workplace, office machinery such as computers and photocopiers accounts for a high proportion of energy use. Most of the energy-efficiency measures you can take in this area cost little or nothing, and the savings could be significant. Offices waste thousands of pounds each year by leaving equipment on over weekends and bank holidays. 

Things you can do now

  • Make sure the last person to leave switches off at night – machines still use power even on standby. Encourage cleaners to switch off, or to remind anyone still working to do so.
  • You can switch your computer off up to three times a day without affecting its lifetime, so power down if you’re going into a long meeting. Remember too you can switch the monitor off without affecting work, and with no delay when you switch it back on again.
  • Enable energy-saving features such as ‘standby’ (you may need to enlist the support and help of your IT or facilities team for this) and make sure that people know how they should be used –  e.g. who should switch which machines off at the end of the day. Stickers and posters can help remind your colleagues. Make sure this takes into account people’s working patterns – it’s no good putting a frequently-used photocopier on standby if it takes ten minutes to power back up again.

Bigger ideas

  • Make sure energy-efficiency is taken into account when making decisions about what equipment to buy. Investment in more efficient technology may attract tax breaks, as well as saving money on power use.
  • Get 7-day timers fitted to equipment, especially communal equipment such as photocopiers. These can save as much as 70% of energy costs.

You’ll find more ideas on cutting energy use by office equipment in the TUC’s Go Green at Work handbook (PDF, 1.7MB).


Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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