Office Lights

Many offices, banks, companies, etc., leave lights on unnecessarily. How can this be ignored while the energy prices go high, energy emissions increases, natural resources consumed negligently?

The Department of Energy and Climate Change published a report on Energy Consumption in UK in 2011 analyzing the energy usage in service sector.

In 2009, Commercial buildings and Offices consumed nearly 2,848,000 kWh for lightings alone. Retail facilities went way beyond that and consumed nearly 13,475,000 kWh to keep the stores lit. This consumption is nearly equal to the electricity consumed by approximately 20,400 homes every year on lightning alone.

Energy consumption as electricity is much more than natural gas, oil and solid fuel combined. The total electricity consumption across the service sector (including schools, sports and leisure, government, and warehouses) is 95,600,000 kWh, much of which is used for normal day to day use. Anything that can be done to reduce this consumption will be and is highly appreciated.

One should also keep in mind that lights from office blocks and the high streets at night have other uses and can be diverted for useful purpose. For instance, theses lights help in keeping the streets lit at night. Likewise, buildings sites often leave the lights on at night for safety and security concerns. But it should not be used as a cop-out by the companies.

Research from the Carbon Trust last year revealed that rising energy prices, along with taxes, are the biggest concerns for the British businesses.

Companies are needlessly paying thousands of pounds every year due to failure in switching off electrical equipment not in use.

Office computers are left unattended for hours every day due to day breaks, lunches, and meetings. During this time, each PC uses around 200 watts----0.2 kilowatts of electricity, i.e., 1.5p per hour. This data might seem insignificant, but when calculated for a workplace of 100, it amounts to £15 of unused power each five-day week and a yearly total of nearly £700.It isn’t just PCs that are soaring the electricity bills, lights are also equally responsible. A hundred light bulbs left on unnecessarily for two hours per day could cost £471.12 for a year.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the UK squanders £170 million a year simply by leaving lights on. Lights left overnight consume enough energy in one year to heat a home for five months. Further statistics from the Energy Saving Trust show that leaving devices on such as TVs, laptops, printers and cordless phones on standby can add £30 to an average annual household bill.

A university of Cambridge study revealed that photocopiers are switched on all day, but are used for about 20% of that time, and account for £320 in wasted electricity each year. Single photocopier left powered on overnight will consume enough energy to produce over 1,500 copies. Switching off and unplugging appliances is the only complete solution against unnecessary consumption of electricity. And it can be done conveniently if sockets for the appliances are easily accessible to the employees.

Bruce concluded: "Generally people won’t remove a plug from its socket in the fear of inadvertently unplugging the wrong device. Providing on-desk plug sockets for employees not only serves as a visual reminder to disconnect electrical items when they’re not in use, but also takes the guesswork out of which cable is connected to which device. Using energy management devices at the workplace, monitoring the consumption of electricity may help the employers save money."

Lights are often left on at night due to commercial reasons. Foxton’s estate agents near me not only leaves the lights on whole night in its giant glass box but also has flat screen TV blaring through the night. Is it really needed?

Most of the UK’s commercial buildings are energy inefficient and overall, energy consumption per square meter has flatlined since 2002.

A report by Think Tank Green Alliance, written for its Tech Task Force, highlights that to save money and carbon both, the most obvious solution is to make better use of technology. It can really help in reducing the consumption of energy and improve the performance of the commercial buildings. For this, we can use smart sensors and algorithms to track and modulate the use of energy in different parts of the building.

Artificial Intelligence energy optimization systems already in the market could cut consumption by up to 14 percent in commercial buildings. For example, in London, businesses could save about £13 million in energy bill within a year.

Combined with better business incentives, these technologies may yield better results in energy consumption. As in Australia, over the past 13 years, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) has brought the energy consumption across Australia’s buildings by nearly 40 percent. It requires annual disclosure of energy consumed by the buildings and encourages the use of digital technologies, leading to improvements year by year.

Similar progress in London could cut energy bills by about £367 million over the next decade.

The Committee on Climate Change says that cutting energy waste is of vital importance to reach UK’s net zero emissions goal by 2050. The commitment of the government is not sufficient, existing policies cannot achieve it. Thus, there is an immediate requirement of new policies with better business incentives and awareness regarding consequences of wastage of energy.

Caterina Brandmayr, senior policy analyst at Green Alliance, said-

“we all work for or know businesses that waste energy, whether it’s leaving lights on at night or wasting heat. It’s hard to see why dealing with this problem isn’t yet a priority, for companies in terms of cost savings or for the government in reaching its carbon targets.

Digital technology is an obvious and inexpensive way to track and control energy use, cutting business costs and carbon emissions. Cities will play a leading role in cutting emissions and would be a great place to start the UK’s business energy efficiency revolution.”

Rodney turtle, VP for public policy and government affairs at Schneider Electric, said-

“Much greater ambition is needed to improve the energy performance of UK buildings, ensuring that new buildings are much more efficient and promoting extensive refurbishment of existing ones. Digital solutions to accelerate progress are already available and other countries are already racing ahead in making the most of these opportunities.”

Steve Brambley, chief executive of GAMBICA, the Trade Association for Instrumentation, Control, Automation and Laboratory Technology, said-

“There is no doubt that digital technology can be transformational in cutting the energy use in commercial buildings. We have the technology now to achieve this, what is missing is policy to make this investment in energy efficiency a strategic priority for businesses.”