According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, office equipment accounts for 16 percent of a office’s energy use. Years ago, a six person office would have had one electric typewriter and one photocopier for a connected load of about 600 watts. Today, that same office could have six computers, six monitors, two printers, one photocopier and one fax for a connected load of more than 7,000 watts. More and more powerful equipment has been added to nearly every office. However, there are energy efficient options for virtually all office equipment. Lets take a look at some of these options.
Computers and Monitors
A study from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab estimated that one workstation (computer and monitor) left on after business hours is responsible for powerplants emitting nearly one ton of CO2 per year. That could be cut by 80% if the workstation is switched off at night and set to sleep mode during idle periods in the day. According to the study, if every U.S. computer and monitor were turned off at night, the nation could shut down eight large power stations and avoid emitting 7 million tons of CO2 every year.
Individual computers are not large energy users. But, as they get more powerful and monitors get larger, they draw more power than they used to. Most new computers come with the Energy Star label. That’s important to look for, but that label alone doesn’t ensure energy savings. The user needs to be involved too. There is a myth that says you shouldn’t turn you computer off, this isn’t true. It is also not true that screen savers save energy. When you’re not going to use a computer for more than two hours, and especially when your leaving at night, the best thing you can do to save energy is just turn it off.
Flat panel liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors use quite a bit less energy than the conventional cathode ray monitors. The LCD monitors may be more expensive, but if you are considering new monitors, the energy savings may justify the extra expense.
Energy Star printers can cut a printer’s electricity use by over 65 percent. A printer with a duplexing mode can also save around $30 a month in paper costs. Laser printers are available with different printing speeds. The maximum energy draw of faster printers is greater than that of slower ones. Ink jet printers use much less energy. Instead of drawing 60 to 100 watts, they require only 10 to 15 watts. The trade off with these printers is partly speed and partly quality.
Energy Star laser printers don’t need to be switched off manually. When no print commands have been received for a preset time period, these printers automatically switch to a low-power standby mode. The energy savings are significant! While in standby, printers produce less heat, reducing air conditioning costs too. With fewer operating hours and less heat build up, these printers can last longer and be more reliable.
Like printers, copiers use energy all day (and night) even when making copies only a small fraction of that time. Energy Star labeled copiers are equipped with a feature that allows them to automatically turn off after a period of inactivity. This can cut electricity use by over 60 percent. Even non- Energy Star copiers can be manually turned off in the evenings and over the weekend. All office staff can help with this!
The right copier can also save you paper. Copiers with duplexing capabilities set to automatically make double-sided copies can cut your paper costs. You’ll use less paper, have more profits, and help save trees all at the same time!
Fax machines operate like copiers and printers. They use energy even when
just sitting there. For some infrequently used fax machines, the standby energy use can be 10 to 20 times more than when operating. Unlike printers and copiers, the fax machine isn’t something you typically turn off at the end of the workday.
For all future fax machine purchases, specify an Energy Star model. They have a sleep feature that can cut energy costs by almost 50 percent. A typical Energy Star fax machine will save energy with a sleep mode and still be ready to send or receive faxes immediately. Energy Star faxes can also scan double-sided pages. This reduces both copying and paper costs.
Fax modems can also be added to a computer or network. This allows for paperless faxing and electronic storage of faxes received. This uses less paper and takes up less storage space, and may make the documents more retrievable than paper copies.