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Do You Have Energy Hogs in Your Office?

Key Points
  • Office equipment is the fastest growing energy user in commercial facilities.
  • The sleep mode feature on electronic business equipment should be used whenever possible.
  • ENERGY STAR rated office equipment is more energy efficient than conventional products.

You may be surprised to learn that electronic office equipment has emerged as the fastest-growing energy user in commercial buildings, accounting for $1.8 billion per year in total energy costs. Taking steps to reduce energy use in the office not only lowers your energy bill, it helps to minimize your impact on the environment as well.

The energy cost of office equipment

The following table illustrates estimated annual operating costs for various office equipment.

Annual Energy Cost* 

8 Hours/Day, 5 Days/Week (Sleep Mode)

24 Hours/Day, 7 Days/Week (Sleep Mode)  24 Hours/Day, 7 Days/Week (No Sleep Mode)
Desktop Computer and LCD Monitor $14.50 $20 $65
Laptop  $4.50 $5.50 $15
Laser Printer $25 $30 $75
Copier $55 $82 $315
*Based on typical operating and sleep mode power draw and an electricity rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)  

Get all of the sleep you can

As the table makes clear, sleep mode is an important energy management feature for reducing office operating costs. Copiers typically operate less than 5 percent of the time, and even if computer monitors are active 90 percent of the 40-hour work week, the computers themselves are still sleeping 80 percent of the time, when compared to 24/7 hours of operation. The following examples illustrate how sleep mode can directly impact office equipment energy use.

Computers and laptops. A typical desktop computer and monitor consumes about 175 watts, depending on size and model. During sleep mode, the computer will consume 5 to 8 watts and the monitor 3 to 6 watts. Accessories, such as speakers, can add another 30 to 40 watts. Laptop computers use less energy than desktops, generally ranging from 45 to 85 watts.

Copiers. Copiers are the most energy-intensive of all office equipment because they need to be kept warm so the toner will fuse to the paper. Energy-efficient models offer low-power and off modes, which can provide energy savings of 40 to 50 percent compared to standard units.

Office printer
Printers. Printers are also significant energy users in the office. In operation, a typical laser printer will consume 350 to 400 watts, while larger models use up to 1,000 or more. Power demand depends on printer size, type, printer quality, color capability and other features. Printers consume substantially less power (5 to 30 watts) in sleep or standby modes, making this one of the most effective methods to reduce office energy use.

Fax machines. While fewer fax machines are seen in offices these days, they can still be a drain on your energy costs. Fax machines left on continuously are estimated to be in active receiving or sending mode only 3 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By activating sleep mode, you can reduce fax machine energy use by up to 40 percent.

Give your office ENERGY STAR quality

When purchasing or replacing computers or other office equipment, be sure to choose  ENERGY STAR rated products for energy-efficient performance. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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