Is It Worth It? - Save Energy at Work

January 18 2017

Is It Worth It? - Save Energy at Work

Posted by r.meneses

We had a question submitted to us recently about our asking staff to turn off monitors not only when you leave work, but also when you are only leaving your desk for a few minutes. Monitors these days are pretty energy efficient, so how much difference does it really make, and is it worth all the effort we’ve put into going on about it all the time? Well, we did the maths and we’ve come to the following conclusion (drumroll please):

No, it isn’t really…if you’re only talking about 1 monitor. Here’s the basic breakdown of what we found:

On standby (when the power light glows orange) our Dell monitors’ power usage is just an impressive 1 watt (according to CNET). Energy usage is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). 1 kWh is equal to the amount of energy you would use if you kept a 1000 watt appliance running for 1 hour. To give a rough idea, here are some approximate examples of how quickly other appliances use 1 kWh:

  • A full dishwasher or washing machine cycle;
  • 3 hours of watching a plasma TV;
  • 1-2 days on a laptop;
  • Boiling 10 kettles;
  • 1 hour of ironing;
  • Keeping a fridge-freezer on for about 3 hours.

One of our monitors would need to be on standby for 1000 hours (about 41.5 days) to use 1 kWh of energy. Not much by itself, but we don’t use just 1 monitor. 2 monitors on standby would eat through that in 500 hours. 4 monitors in 250 hours. Telford office currently uses about 490 monitors. If they were all left on standby they would use 1 kWh of energy in about 2 hours. Stepping away from your desk and leaving your monitors on for 3 minutes here, 10 minutes there, a 1 hour meeting elsewhere will continue to pile on the energy use.

Telford is quite small as Land Registry offices go – about 4500 people are employed by Land Registry, which equates to approximately 9000 monitors. This many monitors left on standby hits the 1 kWh mark in under 7 minutes. Land Registry is quite small as far as offices in the UK go – imagine how quickly the energy usage shoots up UK-wide? And again, what about monitors the world over, many of which would not be as energy efficient as our Dell monitors?

This underpins the entire point of the message coming from the save@work competition – small changes to energy usage habits can have large positive impacts.

Turning our monitors off while we’re not looking at them isn’t going to make an appreciable difference to the competition figures, but that’s not really the point. The point is the more of us that adopt these practices, the bigger the difference we make. What’s more, these habits can be adopted at home as well – the average cost of electricity in the UK is between 11 and 14 pence per kWh – not much when you’re talking 1 or 2, but the more conscious you are of where you can save (switching off monitors or plug sockets) the more these small savings mount up over time. What it comes down to is this: if it is powering a standby light, then it is using power, regardless of how little, and if it is not, then it is not, which is saving energy, cutting carbon and reducing costs.

Save@Work focusses on overcoming the barriers to energy saving practices in public office buildings and changing the behaviour of public sector employees at work place. A minimum of 9.000 employees in at least 180 public office buildings from nine countries will compete in a year-long energy saving contest to achieve the highest energy savings possible compared to the previous year. By providing a complete set of strategies and materials needed to replicate this project, Save@Work goal is to inspire others to follow our lead and develop energy efficient offices of the future.

Author: Dave Bailey, Telford Land Registry, Save@Work energy team

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