Top tech to go green and save your business money

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As a business owner you’re probably fighting a never ending battle to save your business money. But, as the price of energy goes up this task is undoubtedly getting harder. However, there are some simple steps that can be taken to drastically reduce the amount of energy that your business pays for.

For example, did you know that devices being left on standby could be responsible for between 5 and 10% of your businesses energy bill? In fact, some of the worst culprits for consuming energy when sat idle are many of the devices you will find in a working environment, such as computers, printers and plasma TVs.

Here are some simple devices you can use around your office or workplace that could help reduce the amount you spend on energy.

Smart power strips

Smart power strips are a good way to ensure all devices are properly shut down at the end of the working day. A smart power strip will monitor the circuitry of the devices that are plugged into it and cut the power to any device that is left in standby mode.

There are a number of ways this can be achieved. Some of the more basic models will simply monitor the level of volts that each device is drawing and then cut the power if the voltsdrops below a predefined level. However, when used in an office this could result in a loss of work - especially if you don’t save often.

Alternatively, more advanced strips have a master plug that determines if the other devices need power. This can be useful for periphery items like monitors or speakers, that don’t require any power unless your computer is turned on.

Other models offer a similar functionality by monitoring the PC’s power status through its USB. However, many current models of PC supply their USB ports with power at all times; so you need to make sure you go in and change these default settings to get the most out of your smart strip.

If you’re in the market for a smart power strip, there are a number of models you can choose from. They all achieve the same thing, but go about the savings in a different way. We recommend the Belkin conserve power strip . Combining a master socket with six controlled sockets, two always on sockets and a remote to control it all, it's like the Swiss army knife of smart power strips.

Energy monitoring

When you first suspect that you’re paying too much for your energy, the first thing you should do is start monitoring your energy usage. In some cases you could simply paying too much for your energy tariff, in which case you could try using our business energy comparison to find a better deal. But, if you suspect it is down to high energy usage, then an energy monitoring device could be the answer.

The business energy market can be a little confusing, so arming yourself with the right knowledge should be your first step in the fight to save your business money on utilities.

Google estimates that we can save between 5 and 15% off our utility bills simply with the extra information we can glean from energy monitoring systems. The basic principle behind the technology is to create a closer link between the devices we use and the energy they consume. With the real time updates that an energy monitor offers, you can distinguish which of your devices are the real energy hoggers, such as a dishwasher, and make a conscious effort to use them more efficently.

We recommend the OWL Micro+. This model is ideal for smaller businesses, such as hairdressers or shops, who are looking for a simple solution to monitor their energy consumption. The OWL Micro+ can even let you set your own customisable consumption target and will warn you when you exceed it. If you’re looking for a more involved solution the OWL +USB also offers a platform to analyse and store your energy consumption data.

Motion sensitive lighting and power

Another option available is to use an infrared motion sensor system that monitors when a workspace is occupied and empty to tailor the use of electricity by the devices in the room.

Unlike the smart strips, an infrared system requires no action on your behalf to shut them off and they have the added bonus of controlling your office lights as well. However, you should be mindful that they do require some customisation when setting them up. With some systems you need to distinguish how long a room is empty for before cutting the power to the devices.

In cases where a lot of work is being carried out on your computer, not setting the device up properly could result in a loss of work if you do not save regularly. This could also damage your devices if they have strict shut down process such as computers and printers.

Systems can get fairly expensive for a full office, but small businesses or absent minded individuals could enjoy endless savings when using this device.

We recommend the Energy Egg . Available in a sleek black design with single and strip plug bank, as well as a newly developed smart light switch, you can control almost everything electronic in a room and shut it all off by simply leaving.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats simplify energy saving by learning your living habits and programming a schedule that fits around you. Traditional thermostats work by letting you monitor and set the temperature of your environment. Whereas more advanced thermostats offer the ability to schedule temperature changes to optimise your energy usage. However, these are notoriously difficult to programme, which can often eat into any potential savings that they may offer.

Smart thermostats have answered a need for simplicity, offering suggestions to optimise your routine further. More advanced systems can even incorporate remote accessing through smart phone apps that lets you control the temperature externally.

Smart thermostats offer businesses huge savings potential by doing all the hard work of optimising you heating schedule for you.

When talking about smart thermostats there is one model you simply cannot avoid, the Nest . Designed by Tony Fadell, the man behind the iPod and the iPhone, the nest takes the values that Apple is famous for: sleek design, innovation and simplicity and applied it to the Nest thermostat. With a variety of smartphone support and extras, this is by far the most celebrated smart thermostat on the market.

Energy saving computer monitors

You may feel you’re saving your business money by not upgrading your monitors. However, any small savings that could be achieved by this method would be negated by the excessive energy that these devices can consume.

A typical monitor uses up about 400 kWh (kilo watts per hour) to run, which works out to about half of the energy that it takes to run your full computer. What’s more, when the monitors are in standby, they are still energy hungry, drawing a significant level of power.

A monitors size and resolution usually determine how much energy it will use. But, with an energy efficient monitor, not only does it take less to run, but they often also have a feature that puts the monitor in a low power sleep mode after a period of inactivity.

Today’s computer monitor market is awash with choice if you’re looking for an energy efficient monitor. But, until highly energy efficient Oled screens become available at a cost effective price, we are stuck with LCD screens.

With this in mind, we recommend the Dell p22 10t. It has a nice and accommodating 22” screen and an active energy rate of just 22 watts. But, where this model really stands head and shoulders over other models is its 0.12 watts it uses during sleep and off modes.

There are loads of reasons for a business to go green. But, the business image benefits aside, the savings potential from using one or several of these devices is remarkable. For a relatively low cost, you could be saving your business hundreds of pounds over the next few years.

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By: James McAllister - home energy expert
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