10 ways to save money on energy and reduce waste

With the expanding number of energy efficient and environmentally preferable products and resources, going green has never been easier. These 10 tips can help save the planet, save you money and, according to Forbes, may also increase consumer preferences for your brand or service.

  1. energy efficient lightbulbReduce peak energy use. Many electric utility companies charge significantly more for energy used during peak demand hours, usually 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A business can often reduce costs simply by moving some operations to off-peak hours. Energy efficiency equipment controls can also lower peak charges by automatically leveling out startup current usage; shutting down idle equipment; and adjusting temperature, speed or other settings.
    Bonus tip: Check with your local electric utility to find out their peak demand hours.
  2. Convert to energy efficient lighting. Use T-8 or T-5 tubular fluorescents in overhead fixtures, and save 35 percent on energy use. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and save 75 percent of energy for the same light output. Better yet, purchase LED (light emitting diode) lighting, which is more efficient and lasts five times longer than compact fluorescents. LEDs are becoming more affordable and user friendly daily. Avoid lemons by purchasing ENERGY STAR or Design Lighting Consortium approved LED products.
  3. Upgrade your HVAC. If your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit is more than 10 years old, it may be costing you $200 per year more in energy costs. Keep that money in the bank by replacing the old unit with an ENERGY STAR qualified unit.
  4. Some don’t like it hot. Wasted hot water means wasted energy used to heat that water. Make sure your hot water heater is not set above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Insulate tank and pipes. Other options include on-demand water heaters and inexpensive heat recovery devices for showers and sinks.
  5. Use technology to reduce paper waste. It’s never been easier or cheaper to go paperless. Free online resources like Google Docs and Dropbox make it easy to store and back up files on the cloud. Find companies that provide online accounting, HR, e-signature, payroll, faxing, scanning and bill-pay software, too.
  6. Purchase or create a green meeting kit. If you have office meetings or parties with food, consider reusable plates and glasses to reduce waste and save money. Reusable party kits can be purchased or the office can create its own green party kit with large totes and a collection of lightweight, non-breakable dishes and cloth napkins.
  7. Invest in remanufactured and/or durable office equipment. Buy equipment that helps reduce waste, such as high quality, durable, repairable equipment that you will not need to replace very often. The less you have to buy, the less you have to throw away!
  8. Repurpose paper. Paper is possibly the largest source of office waste. To save on printer paper cost and waste, print and copy on both sides of the paper, repurpose paper using the unused side for drafts and scratch paper and email or share rather than printing one per person.
  9. Create a recycling environment. Set aside an area where employees can store and trade reusable office items. Set up clearly labeled recycling receptacles in the office areas with the highest traffic and accessibility.
  10. Properly recycle electronics. Electronic waste makes up only about 2 percent of the trash in landfills, but the toxic components in e-waste make it a huge disposal problem. Use equipment longer before scrapping and then only use E-Steward certified recyclers.