MN Energy Smart

5 Ways to Engage Employees in Energy Savings

Here’s a low-cost way businesses can lower their energy bills: Get employees to chip in.

Simple steps such as turning off lights when rooms are unoccupied, or turning off and unplugging office equipment such as computers, printers and copiers at night can help a business save hundreds of dollars annually on their energy bills. Yet, many employees don’t do it.

The reasons vary. Some people simply aren’t programmed to think about energy conservation and thus forget to, say, turn off lights when they leave rooms. Others don’t see personal value in taking time to unplug equipment. It only takes a couple minutes to turn off and unplug a computer, yet that’s a minute or two they figure can be better spent doing something else (and besides, they’re not paying the energy bills). Some might even believe their employer wants them to leave the lights and equipment on.

So, then, how do you motivate them to make energy conservation part of their workday? Here are five strategies for getting employees engaged in energy savings:

1. Educate them. A big reason many people don’t take conscious effort to save energy is they don’t realize the full financial and environmental benefits. Employers can change this by providing employees with information. Managers might send emails with factoids on energy savings (such as, turning off a printer at night saves the equivalent of 1,500 photocopies.) Some businesses even host lunch seminars to help employees. (You can find some information on the cost of running office equipment here.)

2. Form a team. Some of the most effective workplace campaigns come not from managers, but other employees. Some companies start “green teams” made up of employees who encourage their colleagues to be more environmentally conscious. Such team could also tackle energy conservation and find ways to educate and motivate their colleagues to save energy.

3. Constant reminders. For many people, not turning things off is habit, and habits are hard to change. Putting signs in key places around the office, such as by the printer or by the doors, reminding people to turn off lights or turn off their computers can make a big difference. And of course, managers should be energy-saving role models: employees will only pitch in if the boss walks the walk.

4. Rewards. Businesses have shown that offering employees some financial incentive for eco-conscious moves, such as buying a hybrid vehicle or taking public transportation to work, can pay off. Companies could motivate employees to save energy by, say, giving gift cards to employees who do the most to save energy or come up with a workplace strategy for doing so.

5. Make it fun. There’s growing recognition that the most successful approaches to make people voluntarily participate in environmentally conscious activities is to make them fun, positive and interesting. At a workplace, this might mean hosting an employee competition or producing a funny video about ways employees can save energy.

Any other ideas on how workplaces can encourage energy conservation among employees?

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