EHS Career Trends/Certification

Saving Energy at Work and Beyond

Earth Day is April 22 this year, so this is a good month to talk with employees about conserving energy at work. Whether they work in an office, a warehouse, a factory, or other workspace, employees can take many steps to save energy.

Workers can start saving energy on their commute to work. Inform workers that the average annual cost for commuting is $2,500. Each 5 mph over 60 mph they drive is like paying an additional 26¢ per gallon for gas. Aggressive driving, such as “jackrabbit” starts and/or hard breaking can lower gas mileage by as much as 40 percent. Unnecessary idling, such as warming up the car for more than a minute, wastes fuel and dollars. Encourage workers to drive economically by avoiding these gas-guzzling driving techniques.

At the computer station, your workers may be surprised to discover that screen savers don’t save energy! In fact, if screen-saver images appear on the monitor for more than 5 minutes, the monitor is wasting energy! A screen saver that displays moving images causes the monitor to consume as much electricity as it does when in active use.
A blank screen saver is slightly better, but even that only reduces monitor energy consumption by a small percent. Workers save energy only if the monitor goes dark, so they should shut it off when they’ll be away from the computer for more than 5 minutes.

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There are many other ways to save energy in the workplace. Most of them are fairly common-sense tips, such as:

  • Turn off computers, monitors, printers, copiers, and other equipment nightly and on weekends.
  • Enable energy saving settings on your computer and other equipment to sleep and hibernate when inactive.
  • Use less paper and print less.
  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Encourage co-workers to take energy-saving steps.

If you have time in the training session, mention ways to save energy at home, too. Many of them are the same as at work.

  • Repair air leaks and insulate your attic.
  • Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use (even cell-phone chargers!).
  • Wash clothes in warm or cold water, hang out to dry instead of using the dryer, and only wash when necessary. Clothes will last longer, and energy will be saved. (Washing and drying a T-shirt over its lifetime accounts for 9 pounds of CO2 emissions.)
  • Get an energy audit through your local utility company.

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Why It Matters

  • Manufacturing industries consume nearly 1/3 of the world’s energy supply.
  • They’re responsible for 36 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide.
  • About $202.3 billion is spent annually on energy use.
  • “Off-the-shelf” energy-efficient technology cuts heating, cooling, and lighting costs in homes and businesses by up to 80 percent.
  • $20 billion would be saved if businesses improved energy-efficiency by 10 percent.

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