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Energy use in Australia: Are your devices causing spikes in the office energy bill?

In this modern age, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on technology to improve operations and productivity. However, this comes at a cost; financially, and environmentally.

According to the Department of Environment and Energy, office equipment accounts for 22% of the typical energy consumption of an office building.

Understanding the energy consumption of your office equipment will allow you to maximise their use. It can also help show you how to save money on your power bill.

Summary Table

To give you a quick comparison we’ve compared the weekly energy consumption of the major pieces of equipment in an office.


#1 Imaging equipment

Photocopiers and printers are two of the most energy-intensive devices in the office. They need to use heat in order to fuse the toner with paper which requires a significant amount of energy.

Copiers can consume power between 0.2 kWh to 1.3 kWh. Even on standby, they can still chew through electricity and consume around 0.007 kWh to 0.3 kWh. Printers, on the other hand, use around 0.15 kWh to 1.1 kWh when active and use about 0.02 kWh to 0.06 kWh on stand-by mode.

You can achieve significant savings by making sure your copiers are switched off at the wall at night and on weekends. Investing in energy-efficient copiers will also help in reducing your power bill. They consume less energy and run at a lower temperature when on stand-by mode which means a reduced need for cooling systems.

#2 Desktop computers

All modern businesses rely on computers for day-to-day operations. While electricity usage may vary widely, desktop computers may use between 0.08 kWh to 0.25 kWh per hour. The power further increases as you add other accessories such as speakers, printers and scanners. A laptop computer, on the other hand, is much more efficient as it can run on battery power and only uses between 0.025 kWh to 0.06 kWh per hour.

Monitors also contribute to the energy consumption of desktop computers. More than half of the energy a computer uses goes to the monitor, and the larger the screen the higher its energy consumption.

#3 Kitchen equipment

Kitchens and lunchrooms are great spaces for employees to relax and interact. But they also hold some of the most energy-intensive appliances in your office.

Refrigerators

A fridge contributes a big chunk to your electricity costs, especially as it runs 24 hours to keep food fresh. Having a bigger fridge also equals bigger bills. For example, a 200 to 299-litre fridge can consume 410 kWh per year; while a 600 to 699-litre fridge uses around 1356 kWh.

Consider what your office needs are and get the right size. Additionally, choosing an Energy Star certified refrigerator will help reduce your energy use.

Coffeemakers

Coffeemakers are becoming one of the most used appliances in many offices. But did you know that they also contribute a significant amount to your energy use?

Most consumer-models use a heat plate to heat the water and keep the coffee warm. They use about 0.083 kWh to brew a pot of coffee. Another type of coffeemaker which has gained much popularity is the single-serve coffee machine. While it’s faster and easier to use, the convenience it offers also comes with a price. Single-serve coffee machines use a heating element that keeps water warm all day. Depending on the model, it can use about 0.024 kWh just to make a cuppa.

Save on your energy bill by choosing an Energy-Star rated coffee maker. Reducing the duration of active use will also result in reduced energy costs. Make sure to unplug the appliance when not in use as it can still consume energy even on standby.

Other factors affecting your office’s energy costs

Inefficient lighting

Inefficient lighting management can also increase your power bill which in turn can affect your bottom line. Lighting unoccupied areas or overly lit spaces results in wasted energy and money.

Add significant savings for your business by installing motion detectors or light level sensors in hallways or conference rooms where lights are not required to be “always-on.” You can also save more by replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs. LEDs use 75% less energy and can give more uniform and brighter lighting to your office spaces.

Appliances in poor condition

Poor maintenance of office equipment and HVAC systems can lead to higher energy use. By setting up a regular maintenance schedule, you can ensure that every equipment you have is always running smoothly - saving you both downtime and energy costs.

Problems in your temperature thermostat sensor

Thermostat sensors read the temperature in the surrounding area and compare those readings with the thermostat settings. For example, if the air in your office is warmer than the thermostat setting, the sensor will trigger your cooling system’s compressor to release cooler air inside the building.

Faulty sensors can cause your HVAC equipment to run too long or in short erratic cycles which can increase your energy use. Avoid wasting energy by ensuring that your temperature sensors are working properly and repairing any issues you’ll find immediately.

These are just some of the most common equipment we generally see in offices. Depending on the size and type of your business, you may be using more appliances. By learning how they operate and use electricity, you’ll have more control over your energy consumption and identify areas where you can reduce your power bill.

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