Companies Warned About Christmas Switch Off

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

If British businesses were to switch off their electronic equipment in empty offices during the Christmas period, they could save up to £110 million

The cost to UK businesses of leaving electrical equipment on standby and heating empty offices over the Christmas break, has been estimated at a whopping £110 million.

So found business price comparison service, Make It Cheaper, which calculated the average office consumes energy at the rate of 10 kilowatt hours (kWh) per employee per day when heated and with all equipment running in standby mode.

The company said that the UK has more than 10 million office workers, and electricity for businesses costs roughly 10 pence per unit, which translates into £10 million pounds a day being spent unnecessarily on 100 million kWh (100 gigawatt hours) of wasted energy.

And it said that this amount of wasted energy is enough to power 2 million homes, and means that an extra 54,000 tonnes of CO2 will enter the atmosphere each day.

“You only have to feel the heat of a mobile phone charger to know that it’s still sucking up electricity even when it’s not attached to your phone,” said Jonathan Elliott, MD of Make It Cheaper. “And leaving a PC monitor on all night wastes enough energy to microwave six cold turkey dinners.”

“As a business we care about people wasting money,” Elliott told eWEEK Europe UK. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that if people were not told to switch things off, they wouldn’t get shut off. It is probably down to inertia, as most people are now working long hours and are dealing with terrible public transport, and therefore most people just want to get home.”

“You need someone in the office to make sure equipment is switched off,” said Elliott. “Some large companies are installing energy management systems to monitor who is leaving their computers on overnight. But in reality smaller businesses have got more important things to worry about than energy management systems. Our advice is it that it is a massive waste of money, so make sure someone is switching off your equipment. Don’t turn off the heating, but instead turn the thermostat down. Everything that is not being used should be turned off completely.”

Make It Cheaper is also offering every company in the UK a free ‘Business Energy Contract Checking Report’ to ensure they only pay the lowest rates for business gas and business electricity in 2010.

“When it comes to energy contracts, there is a lot of ignorance about what these contracts mean,” said Elliot. “What we are able to do here, thanks to our relationships with suppliers, is to find out for customers when their evergreen contract ends, and what they need do to when it ends.”

Elliot said that if businesses were to switch energy suppliers, they can in theory reduce their energy bill by as much as 50 percent. “It is worth remembering that these evergreen contracts automatically renews unless the customer takes action to terminate it, and they often renew at more expensive rates,” he said. “The new contract rate, more often than not, is more expensive than if they shopped around. And the new automatically renewed contract is binding, so they cannot do anything about it until next the terminate period. Therefore if you fail to notice when your contract is about to end, it could end up being a costly mistake.”

The warning from Make It Cheaper mirrors a similar warning earlier this month from Power Efficiency. It predicted that companies could see up to a 75 percent reduction in their energy costs over the 11 day Christmas period, by switching off equipment.