How office equipment influences energy usageDavid Whelan
According to the Carbon Trust, office equipment is the fastest growing energy user in the business world, accounting for 15% of energy use and expected to reach 30% by 2020. When you think about all the equipment in the average office, from laptops and printers to air conditioning and conferencing facilities, this is perhaps not a surprise. What may be surprising, however, is that energy does not have to be a fixed cost and there are opportunities for reducing consumption without increasing your workload.
Reducing energy use brings a number of advantages, from saving money to enhancing a corporate reputation, however, an energy-saving strategy needs to encompass more than just turning equipment off when not in use. A comprehensive plan will consider the full lifecycle of all equipment across all locations and aim for operational efficiency across all stages.
Starting with the basics can pay dividends however, and simply switching off all non-essential equipment out of business hours could save up to 60% of office equipment running costs, while enabling standby features can save around 30% of the costs associated with PC and monitor use.
The biggest obstacle to achieving this, however, is often the need for human involvement. Relying on staff to turn off equipment or use standby modes can be hit and miss and even the most well-intentioned employee can be forgetful after a busy day. Some businesses have introduced best practiced guidelines and walkrounds, whereby a member of staff is tasked with circulating around the office to highlight best/worst practice and encourage changes in attitude and behaviour. While this can have a positive impact over time, once again it relies on human intervention and the hope that people are willing to change.
Fortunately, there are now simpler and more efficient ways of analyzing and managing energy consumption within an enterprise, even one that has employees working across multiple sites and remotely.
With a network-based energy management solution it is possible to gather energy usage information on all devices or systems connected to the network allowing enterprises to gain a complete view of the energy they’re using, highlighting any peaks or unexpected increases in demand and showing if spaces are not being utilised but equipment remains active.
In addition, by also monitoring data such as temperature and emissions it is possible to gather a complete view of your energy use by location, department or other breakdowns which can then be used to compare sources, identify best practice and provide targeted feedback to users in specific areas.
In industrial sites, for example, it will be possible to compare energy use at different plants, identify the most energy efficient equipment and techniques and replicate this across all sites, creating clear money saving opportunities while boosting your sustainability.
As the IoT develops and the number of connected devices continues to grow the opportunities created by implementing a cohesive, enterprise-wide energy monitoring and management plan are countless, especially as energy prices look set to continue to rise and many governments around the world continue to pursue a green agenda.
By automatically collecting the vast amounts of data available from multiple sites in a global organisation and presenting them in a clear, easy to use and easy to analyse format, all levels of the business will be able to monitor their energy use and be more proactive in making changes without having to spend time on manual data collation.
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