Prepping Your Workspace for An Efficient, Extended Absence

March 7, 2020
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With telework on the rise, we all have a significant opportunity to prep our workstations and buildings for an extended absence, be it a vacation, holiday, or extended closure. We’ve gathered tips for employees and facilities to share how we can operate commercial buildings safely and efficiently during a time of vacancy. 

For Employees 

Before leaving your office, take these simple energy-saving measures:    

  • Turn lights off
  • Disconnect all non-critical electrical equipment, appliances, and unnecessary plug loads from receptacles. Even small energy loads can add up! 
  • Turn off shared equipment like printers and copy machines in common areas. Give your IT staff a heads up about these energy-saving efforts, especially for common equipment! Don’t forget to check that kitchen appliances are turned off too. 
  • Close all exterior doors, windows, and openings securelyAir leaks cause HVAC systems to work harder. If your building is vacant in the summer, close blinds to keep solar heat loads out. In the winter, keep blinds open to allow the sun in to heat the space.  
  • Set back space temperatures in all unoccupied buildings and building areas to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit wherever possible (in the winter). This can be done manually by lowering the local thermostats or other heating/ventilation device controls if you have access to them. 
  • Set fans (e.g., fan coil units) to low speed modes where possible.  
  • Ensure that all sink, shower, or other water faucets are turned off. Report any leaks to maintenance staff. Leaky fixtures can waste water and the energy used to heat it.   

 For Facilities Operators 

Behind the scenes, a few small adjustments can capture big savings. As tenants adjust to new work environments in their homes, property and facility managers can continue to ensure healthy and efficient buildings and spaces for their tenants by preventing unnecessary energy waste during a period of long vacancy. 

The Institute for Market Transformation shares tips for Maintaining Building Efficiency in Empty Buildings: 

  • Confirm which of your tenants will be remote, and for how long. Knowing who will and won’t be in the building will help you understand what systems to adjust and how. 
  • Adjust operational schedules and set points of your building’s mechanical and hot water systems to ensure they’re not running unnecessarily at full capacity for a vacant building. 
  • Ensure that all non-emergency lights, equipment, and appliances are turned off. With many tenants leaving their offices hastily, there is likely equipment on, and running power, that won’t be used for quite some time. Turning off this equipment prevents energy from phantom loads and drawing power while in standby mode. 

 For Saving Energy at Home 

When your workstation moves to the home office, you may find that your home energy bills are higher thanks to the heating/air conditioning, lighting, and frequent refrigerator opening that you’re now doing at home during the day.  

Montgomery Energy Connection, in partnership with the Montgomery County Office of Broadband Programs via County Cable Montgomery, is producing a series of Home Energy Hacks – short, informative videos providing residents with quick and easy tips to lower energy use in their homes. The videos will be released on the 18th of each month on multiple social media platforms. 

The videos cover a range of actions for the home – hot water heating, refrigeration, plug loads, thermostats, lighting, and more. Stay efficient, save money, and stay comfortable while teleworking! Learn more about Home Energy Hacks videos here. 







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