101 easy ways to cut your energy bill
A money saving cheat sheet for busy offices
(Printable version)
Try not to heat a room if the windows or doors are open. You are asking your system to heat the entire planet.
Avoid using supplementary electric heaters. These are one of the most expensive heat sources to run.
Find out how the heating system for your office works and make sure you are taking full advantage of built in
energy efficiency functions.
Reduce your office temperature settings by 1°C. It’s unlikely that anyone will notice and you could cut your
heating bill by as much as 10%.
Try to avoid staff members tampering with your heating controls. Instead, appoint a member of staff to have
responsibility for heating controls (and make sure all staff know who the appointed person is).
Use timers and temperature control sensors. For example, an optimiser sensor fitted externally to your office
building can set heating controls to warm up the office before staff arrive and shut off heating controls once the
building is at the optimum temperature, avoiding overheating or the need to open windows.
Set your heating controls settings to take account of shift patterns and different seasons that have different
heating requirements.
Turn off heating in unoccupied areas (e.g. meeting rooms, storage areas). Only use the heating system when
people are actually going to benefit from it.
Make sure fans and pumps do not operate when buildings are unoccupied, except where they are needed for preheating.
If your office requires heating and cooling, you could make big savings by properly specifying a ‘dead band’ in
which neither heating nor cooling system is turned on. For example, heating turned off above 21°C and cooling
turned off below 25°C is a dead band of 4°C. A dead band of 0°C or 1°C will use significantly more energy. This is
especially important if your office has heating and cooling provided by separate systems where there is an extra
risk of the two working against each other.
Ensure heaters and radiators are kept clear by not covering them or placing furniture in front of them. This will
enable them to heat up your office more efficiently.
Ensure that your radiator circuit is weather compensated to reduce overheating. If overheating occurs, make sure
that the heat is turned down rather than opening the windows.
Clean heating surfaces and filters on warm air heaters regularly. Regular cleaning allows for the maximum amount
of heat exchange between two surfaces resulting in better efficiency. It also helps to prolong the life of the
equipment by preventing overheating.
Look out for water or discolouration of your radiator valves to identify any leaks. Fixing them will help ensure your
heating system is operating efficiently.
Use window blinds. Encourage cleaners to close blinds and curtains at night to reduce heat loss when rooms are
Install heat reflectors to the walls behind radiators to improve their efficiency at relatively low cost.
Check for drops in the pressure on your boiler. Drops in central heating pressure can be due to problems with
your boiler or the result of leakage. If your boiler pressure keeps dropping, you should seek technical advice.
Regularly service your heating system -a serviced boiler can save up to 10% on heating costs.
Draught-proof roof lights, doors and single-glazed windows to stop heat escaping from your office. Lost heat is
wasted heat. Your boiler will have to work harder than it needs to, using more energy and costing you more
Fit external doors with spring loaded door closers to make sure they are not left open.
Install thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) where there are large natural variations in temperature across your
workspace. TRVs can be used to quickly restrict the heat being delivered to the warmer areas of the building
whenever necessary.
Check that your office building is adequately insulated to prevent heat loss.
Insulate pipework under suspended ground floors and in the cavity above suspended ceilings as heat loss can be
considerable in these areas.
Consider employee seating arrangements. Different parts of a building will often be different temperatures. It is
also often the case that male employees prefer a slightly lower ambient temperature than female employees. To
avoid behaviours such as staff using their own portable heating devices which can be inefficient and costly, try to
cater for different people’s needs by moving employees to where they would be most comfortable.
If you have staff thinly spread across your office, why not try hot-desking and encourage staff to sit together? This
will make your building easier to heat (people generate heat) and also allow you to switch off heating in areas that
become unoccupied.
Use physical barriers to separate areas you are heating. Divide your site into zones (e.g. corridors, meeting rooms,
office space) which have different heating needs and set the ideal temperature range for each.
Give careful consideration to the positioning of thermostats –for example, a thermostat next to a draughty door
may result in your heating system working hard to heat a room that is actually warm enough.
If your office is being refurbished, consider installing double or triple glazed windows to reduce heat loss through
your windows.
Be aware of over-lighting. Just as insufficient light causes problems, too much light can lead to glare, eye strain
and headaches… and wasted energy.
Areas where people work need to be bright enough to allow them to work comfortably. The same applies to areas
where your customers visit. But have a look at other areas such as corridors and toilets –these should not need to
be so bright for as long or as often. Consider reducing lighting in these areas.
Encourage staff to only switch on the lights that they need rather than the whole floor area.
Switch off lights in unoccupied rooms such as store rooms, photocopier rooms, archive stores and kitchens. Get
everyone into the habit of switching lights off when they leave these rooms.
Ensure lighting controls are clearly labelled, especially if they are grouped together. Labelling should be easy to
understand to encourage staff to turn off lights on sunny days or when part of the office is unoccupied.
Run a ‘switch off’ campaign. It’s always cheaper to switch off lights no matter how short the time period.
Fit energy efficient lighting. If you fit energy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), slimline
tubes or light emitting diodes (LEDs), you can typically make immediate savings of up to 75%. These products also
last up to ten times longer reducing replacement and waste disposal costs. Using tri-phosphor coated tubes gives
a more natural, brighter light.
Use time switches and daylight sensors.
Ensure timers and sensors are in good working order. They should be well-maintained and set according to
occupancy times.
Make sure windows and skylights are cleaned often.
Lay out your office to make best of natural light.
Relocate any objects such as boxes, plants and paperwork that block light entering your office.
Relocate any objects that may be affecting sensors.
Make sure lights can be switched off manually (particularly near windows). Installing zone controls and daylight
sensors ensures that lights are switched on only when necessary.
Encourage staff to open the blinds and use natural lights wherever possible, rather than turn on the lights.
Install daylight blinds that redirect light to the ceiling thereby preventing glare. Some also have perforated blades
to allow a view of outside.
Install presence detector lighting controls in places not in constant use. Installing sensors in places such as toilets,
store rooms and meeting rooms can provide savings of up to 30% on lighting costs.
For new installations, ensure you have several separate circuits so that lights in darker areas can be turned on
independently of those in lighter areas.
Artificial lights consume power, while natural lights are free. When refurbishing, consider installing skylights to use
maximum day light, and reduce the use of artificial lights in dark areas.
Cooling & ventilation
Before you run your cooling system, consider if your office could be sufficiently cooled by opening doors and
If your office has to be cooled with air conditioning, ensure that windows and doors are closed, otherwise you are
asking your air conditioning system to cool the entire planet.
Ensure fans and pumps do not operate when buildings are unoccupied, except where they are needed for precooling.
Turn off cooling systems in unoccupied rooms (offices, meeting rooms, storage areas). Only use the system when
people are actually going to benefit from it.
You may not already be aware but there are energy efficient functions already built into many cooling systems.
Find out how to correctly operate the cooling system at your site and take advantage of these features.
Have ventilation system filters regularly checked regularly to see if they are blocked or creating excessive
resistance. Well-maintained equipment works more efficiently and lasts longer.
Use timers and temperature control sensors to control output.
Your cooling system does not need to operate at full speed all of the time. Fit Variable Speed Drives –they can
reduce energy use by enabling the output speed of the fans to match your requirements.
Divide your office into zones (e.g. corridors, meeting rooms, office space) which have different needs and set the
ideal temperature range for each. Separating and cooling these areas separately means that you are only heating
the space that you need to.
Think carefully about where you place your thermostats. A thermostat on a wall that gets direct sunlight may
result in your cooling system working hard to cool a room that is already cool enough.
Fit external doors with spring loaded door closers to ensure they stay shut when your cooling system is working.
To avoid overheating in your office in the first place, fit horizontal blinds or external shading to windows. This can
direct light away from staff’s workstations and onto ceilings and walls.
Consider installing window interlocks on the air conditioning control system, so when the window is opened, the
air conditioning system switches off, which avoids wasting energy.
To avoid staff using their own fans which can be inefficient, try to cater for different people’s needs by moving
employees to where they would be most comfortable. Men usually prefer a slightly lower ambient temperature
than women and different parts of your office will often be at different temperatures.
Encourage staff to turn their computer monitors off if they are going to be away from their desks for more than 10
Encourage staff to turn off their PCs, monitors and communal equipment at the end of the day.
Check brightness settings on monitors. When too bright it will use more energy (as well potentially causing eye
Clean and service equipment regularly to keep parts free of dust and blockages that will cause them to work
harder than they need to.
Some chargers continue to draw power when they’re plugged in, so unplug them when not in use.
Replace personal printers with one large, energy efficient communal printer, to increase efficiency and reduce idle
energy costs.
Print only when necessary. This will not only reduce paper wastage but also saves energy and extends the life of
your printer.
Set up printers to print both sides of the paper (duplex printing), which saves energy by not printing more than
Purchase equipment with the EU ENERGYSTAR® standard or similar.
Use laptops instead of desktop PCs -they use significantly less energy.
Replace cathode ray tube monitors with energy efficient flat screen monitors.
Use technology to hold virtual meetings. New technologies allow you to hold virtual meetings, give presentations
and make long distance phone calls without even leaving the office.
Take advantage of technology that allow employees to work from home when appropriate. Modern computer
technology allows employees to connect to office networks safely and securely. And with less employees in the
office, you can spend less on lighting and heating/cooling.
Electronic equipment generates heat when in use. Computer and server rooms can get very hot and will therefore
run cooling fans to avoid overheating. This uses energy, so try to make your computer rooms well ventilated in the
first place. With specialist support, you could even look to capture the ‘free heat’ from your server room, and use
it to heat your office.
Hot water
Provide a washing-up bowl at the sink to minimise hot water use during washing-up.
Upgrade taps and shower heads. Water efficient taps and showers save water and energy.
Install instant water heaters where possible, otherwise reduce the temperature of stored hot water (to a minimum
of 60°C to avoid Legionella bacteria breeding).
Purchase a dishwasher with an eco-cycle – a full dishwasher, well-stacked, uses less energy than washing the same
amount of dishes in the sink.
Insulate your tanks and pipes to prevent unwanted heat loss. The hot water in your pipes will remain hot for
longer and you will save money.
Consider fitting solar thermal panels to heat water.
Do not over-fill kettles and saucepans.
Get back to basics with a tea rota for teams. Instead of boiling the kettle five separate times, take it in turns to go
and make a big round.
Make sure vending machines are running at the optimum temperature and are serviced regularly.
Put timers on vending machines that display ‘ambient’ drinks and non-perishable snacks so they are off overnight
and at weekends.
Defrost your office freezer regularly to prevent the build up of ice which puts extra pressure on your appliance to
use more energy.
Maximise the space in your refrigerator. They are most efficient when three quarters full, so that cold air can still
Minimise the loss of cold air from refrigerators. Check the seals on doors and replace these if damaged.
Ensure fridges and freezers have an EU energy rating of A or higher.
Compare the power rating and energy consumption of appliances before purchasing.
Keep equipment well maintained –ensure heating elements, jets, sprays, thermostats, seals and drains are clean
and unclogged.
Check your bills. Understanding your energy bill is a key part of setting up a measuring and monitoring scheme,
but a quick check of your bills may also highlight some immediate savings opportunities.
To help create an energy efficient culture in your organisation, encourage staff to take part in brainstorming
sessions and come up with their own innovative ideas to cut down energy costs.
Undertake a full energy audit to identify the main sources of wasted energy in your office, and work out how much
you can save your business.
If you do not have one already, have a green champion. This person can undertake regular checks on energy waste
in their department and produce informal reports on what can be improved, as well as help to engage other staff.
Provide staff with induction training so they understand how you save energy in your office.
Develop and share an environmental policy -it can simply be a few paragraphs outlining your organisation’s
commitment to managing the environmental impacts of its operations.
Encourage friendly competition in your office to save energy and money. Reward staff for useful ideas and taking
Provide staff with energy saving tips for their homes. This will help them to realise the benefits of energy efficiency
and get them into the habit of saving energy –behaviour which can be transferred to the office.
Take part in global energy awareness campaigns such as Earth Hour.
Try The Savings Finder and get a free report highlighting the energy, water and raw material cost savings that you
could make in your organisation. http://savingsfinder.resourceefficientscotland.com
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