What It Is
Energy-efficient business equipment serves a business’s needs while consuming less energy than standard equipment. Common examples of energy-efficient business equipment include:
- computers with sleep mode or power-down mode
- copiers with sleep mode and double-sided copying
- printers with sleep mode and double-sided printing
However, energy-efficient equipment is not limited to office fixtures like these. Options are available for a variety of businesses, including restaurants, construction companies, and auto dealers.
Why It Matters
According to one study, “office equipment is the fastest growing use of electricity in commercial buildings in the United States. [In fact], businesses pay more than $2 billion [a year] for the electricity consumed by office equipment.” Using more energy-efficient equipment can reduce a business’s energy consumption and save money in the process.
1. Step One: Turn equipment off when not in use
2. Step Two: Explore energy-efficient equipment options for your business
Step One: Turn equipment off
If your equipment does not have sleep or power-down mode, make sure to unplug the equipment when not in use. If possible, turn off the equipment each time you finish using it to maximize energy efficiency. Some items use energy even when turned “off” but are still plugged in. This is called “vampire” energy usage, and can be avoided by plugging equipment into a power strip and turning off the entire strip at the end of the day.
Note that leaving equipment, like a computer, on around the clock does not increase the product’s life. According to Energy Savers, “this [misconception] carries over from the days of older, mainframe computers.” Shockingly, “U.S. businesses waste $2.8 billion a year by leaving computers on overnight.”
Step Two: Explore energy-efficient options
Each business needs different equipment, so consider what equipment your business uses and then explore energy-efficient options. ENERGY STAR, a joint program of the EPA and US Department of Energy, offers a catalog of energy-efficient products, which may help in your search. Also consider checking out ENERGY STAR’s energy efficiency tips for small businesses.
When possible, factor energy use over the lifetime of the machine when comparing the cost of various equipment. Higher up-front costs may be offset by energy cost savings if the item is more efficient.
To further improve energy efficiency, purchase energy-efficient products like those in the ENERGY STAR catalog. Consider buying computers and monitors with sleep or power-down modes, which reduce electricity usage by up to 70 percent. Other items that might have energy efficient counterparts are cordless phones, televisions, water coolers, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
The Grey Plume, named “The Greenest Restaurant in America” by the Green Restaurant Association, uses an array of energy-efficient products, including dishwashers, refrigerators, hand dryers, occupancy sensors (for the office and restrooms), and a computer. Visit this link for a detailed list of all of the restaurant’s eco-friendly efforts.
Resources for More Information
- Energy Efficiency: Principles and Practices by Penni McLean-Conner
- EarthEasy offers helpful information on energy efficiency and products.
- Energy Savers shares tips on energy-efficient office equipment and electronics, as well as tips for small businesses.
- ENERGY STAR partners with businesses to improve energy efficiency. Click here for more information on how to partner with ENERGY STAR.
- Siemens offers energy-efficient products for a variety of industries, including healthcare, food and beverage, finance, telecommunications, and mining.
- Click here to listen to an ENERGY STAR podcast on energy-efficient servers and datacenters.
Energy-efficient equipment uses less energy to accomplish the same tasks as standard equipment. Switching to more energy-efficient products can reduce your business’s energy usage and costs. Also, adopting conservation practices (such as turning off idle equipment) can prolong the life of your equipment.
 “Energy-Efficient Office Equipment: A Pacific Energy Center Fact Sheet,” Pacific Gas and Electric Company, http://www.pge.com/includes/docs/pdfs/about/edusafety/training/pec/inforesource/energy-efficient_office_equipment.pdf, accessed 23 July 2013.
 “Tips: Home Office and Home Electronics,” Energy Savers, 22 January 2009, http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-home-office-and-electronics, accessed 23 July 2013.
 Walter Dray, “Energy Reduction Tips That Won’t Break the Bank,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 11 May 2010, http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/tips/archives/2010/05/energy_reduction_tips_that_wont_break_the_bank.html, accessed 23 July 2013.
 ”Energy-Efficient Office Equipment: A Pacific Energy Center Fact Sheet,” Pacific Gas and Electric Company, http://www.pge.com/includes/docs/pdfs/about/edusafety/training/pec/inforesource/energy-efficient_office_equipment.pdf, accessed 23 July 2013.
 ”Tips: Home Office and Home Electronics,” Energy Savers, 22 January 2009, http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-home-office-and-electronics, accessed 23 July 2013.