Conserving Energy One Cubicle At A Time…

What are the top 4 Things you can do to save electricity in your office?

  1. Turn your computer off at night if you aren’t already.
  2. Even better, change the power settings on your computer so it goes to sleep after 15 minutes or 20 minutes.
  3. Turn your lights off when ever you leave your office.
  4. Next time you buy a computer, seriously consider purchasing a laptop (they use about 1/4 the power of a desktop computer).

Do you know how much electricity you use in your personal office or cubicle?  Do you know how much energy your desktop computer or laptop uses?  If you are like me, you probably don’t know.  Over the past year I’ve measured how much electricity the different electric and electronic devices use so that I can make better decisions as I try to reduced my personal energy foot print (I use a device call the Kill-A-Watt to measure the electrical draw of each item).

Below are the power draws of all the electrical devices in my office (here is spreadsheet with a longer list of home and work electronics & their power draws):

  • Lights On: 64 watts
  • 27″ iMac Computer in Use w/ 2nd 24″ monitor (both screens at 50% brightness): 142 watts
  • 27″ iMac Computer idle (both screens asleep): 60 watts
  • Computer speakers on: 6 watts
  • MacBook Air (screen 50% brightness): 14 watts
  • iPad charging: 10 watts

Now here are some different options I have when I leave my office for lunch or for a meeting:

  1. Office occupied and in use: 236 watts
  2. Rich just walks away: 132 watts
  3. Rich turns off lights & walk away:  66 watts
  4. Rich auto sleeps computer, laptop, and turns off lights: 8 watts
  5. Rich sleeps computer, laptop, and turns off lights and power bar for computer speakers: 2 watts

Notice the dramatically different levels of electrical usage between me just walking out of my office (#2) and me changing the settings in my computer to hibernate and turning my lights off (#4).  Instead of just walking away from my office, I’ve now programmed my monitors to turn off after 2 minutes of inactivity, and my computers to sleep after 15 minutes on inactivity, and trying very had to remember to turn my lights off.  There are motion sensor switches you can purchase to turn lights off for you, but I just need to get into the habit of turning my lights off when I’m leaving my office. Changing my habits slightly translates into an 94% reduction in energy consumption.

Why is it important to know how much electricity each device uses?  Here’s a quick example from my home. It’s been ten years now since we converted all our lighting in our house to compact florescent bulbs (CFL’s).  We made the change believing that we’d reduce our electrical consumption… which it did.  Last year I started measuring the electrical usage of other appliances in our home and was shocked to discover that our electric hot water tank uses the majority of the electricity in our house. I was worrying about turning lights off, when it was shower length that I should have been worried about first. For example, reducing my personal daily shower from 20 minutes to 10 minutes is the same as turning off all the lights in our kitchen, living room and front entry way for 10 hours.

Should we have switched to CFL bulbs?  Of course, but we should also have been encouraging everyone in the house to limit their time in the shower. By doing both we would have reduced or energy consumption significantly more.

P.S. Here are some facts about other electronics in your office that might be interesting to you:

  • Digital Projector: 150-300 watts (depending on the model)
  • Kyocera 2020D printer printing: 820 watts
  • Kyocera 2020D printer idle: 25 watts
  • Kyocera 2020D printer off: 13 watts

P.P.S. I use the kill-a-watt device to measure the electrical draw of plugin electronics and appliances.  At home I use The Energy Detective to monitor in real time energy usage in my home.

One comment

  1. Rich

    You are very creative. I really do enjoy the type of thing.


    Murray Peterson, Energy Manager

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