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Saving Money and Energy on Office Equipment

Saving Money and Energy on Office EquipmentWe all know small businesses use an array of technologies, from computers, printers and copiers to smart phones, refrigerators and personal space heaters. The ever-growing number of gadgets is quickly driving up our electricity bills. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, office equipment accounts for 7% of all commercial electricity costs – and much more if you factor in the air-conditioning costs to displace the heat created by it.

What many business owners don’t realize is the potential electricity (and money) savings reaped by turning off equipment not in use and unplugging it.  Phantom or vampire power, the electricity drawn from the outlet when a piece of equipment is turned off, can account for more than 10% of all electricity used by equipment.

A new study from the Energy Center of Wisconsin looks at the toll all this equipment has on energy costs, and ways to reduce it. The study focuses on home  use, but much of the information is pertinent to businesses as well. It stresses, for instance, the cost savings of setting power management (or “sleep mode”) settings on computers. (Read instructions on how to set power management setting here [1].) Activating sleep mode settings can save $50 a year on electricity bill, yet less than one-third of computer users have it set.

The study also includes some interesting comparisons of the number of watts per hour various equipment use when they are on and when they are off but still plugged into the outlet. To help you calculate the electricity cost, you can estimate that 1,000 watts (1 kilowatt) costs roughly 10-cents per hour [2]. (A desktop computer and monitor left on continuously for a year, for instance, would cost about $100.)

Here, then, is a look at the watts per hour used by various technologies: