Take some time to sketch out a quick strategy plan by which you intend to reduce energy consumption at the workplace. Try to identify obvious areas of improvement, perform an ?energy audit?, and brainstorm with your staff. It will be imperative that you get your employees involved in the project, as their efforts can vastly affect your success in this arena.

Examine your electricity costs and usage and set a moderate goal to reduce them over the next quarter. Once you?ve developed a rough outline of your plan, go over it with your managers and department directors. Refine your plan, add to it as needed and do what you can to prepare it for incorporation into the company?s policies and SOP?s. Next, it?s time to draft a memo for your employees regarding the new policy.

Step Two: Get the Word Out

There are several reasons why it is so important to ensure everyone is aware of your new endeavor and that they understand it. One reason why it is crucial to spread the word is because your staff will play a critical role in reducing energy costs at your workplace. More importantly, this memo should be used as a vehicle to educate and inform your workers about energy conservation. There are myriad tips, tricks and strategies by which your business can save money on electricity ? many of which your employees may either not know about or have misconceptions about. (You?ll learn some of these throughout the rest of this article, so keep reading!)

Explain to your staff what your plan is, the key strategies, how the company is adopting the policies and what the ultimate goals are. Encourage and motivate them to contribute. Point out the most prominent areas of energy consumption that you wish to improve. Give them resources by which they can learn and apply key strategies for helping to accomplish this goal. Ideally, they will learn not only how to cut energy consumption at work, but to transfer the same mentality to their everyday lives outside of work as well.

Step Three: Execute the Strategy

Once your plans are lined out and you?ve got your staff on board, simply practice every possible method of energy conservation targeted toward your key areas for improvement in an effort to reduce your overall electricity costs and usage. Business owners, managers and department directors should assume a leadership role through action. Start by following some common best-practices and learning important tips and information regarding electricity consumption. Here?s a list to get started:

1) Office Equipment
a. Using qualified Energy Star equipment will ensure that you have the most efficient machines and appliances for your business
b. When it?s time to upgrade a PC, consider switching to a Laptop if possible. The long term savings in energy consumption from a PC to a Laptop is well worth the change.
c. Turn off electronics, computers, monitors, copiers, printers and appliances when not in use. ?Hibernation?, ?Standby? and ?Sleep? modes don?t save electricity
d. Many electronic devices consume power even while turned off. To ensure they aren?t drawing power, use power strips and switch off the strip at the end of the day.

2) Lighting
a. Turn off lights that aren?t being used ? very simple to do with a huge value in savings.
b. A common waste of lighting energy is in the restroom. Slash your costs by keeping the lights off in the restrooms unless someone is actually using them.
c. Optimize the amount of daylight available by keeping workstations close to windows, thereby cutting down on the need for electric lights.
d. Consider motion sensor switchplates for overhead lights in supply closets, bathrooms, break rooms, halls, meeting rooms and other offices wherever possible.
e. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs wherever possible. At about ¼ of the cost of incandescent lighting they reduce wasted heat energy, electricity consumption and last about 10 times longer as well.

3) Heating & Air Conditioning
a. If your company has a maintenance department or any on-site support for your HVAC systems, make sure they are aware of your efforts and ask them to perform ?tune-ups? and maintenance on your HVAC systems, especially just prior to summer or winter.
b. Ensure HVAC filters are changed monthly.
c. Use window blinds, drapes, curtains and tinting in order to control direct sunlight through office windows to avoid compensating with your thermostat.
d. Try to use fans whenever possible to keep air moving about the office and contribute cooler comforts to the occupants. Fans are also useful for drawing pleasant outside air into the office on a nice day.
e. Install programmable thermostats in the office. Not only will you have better control over the temperatures, but the system will more accurately maintain desired heating and cooling functions.

Step Four: Track Your Progress

As your plan is being implemented, check on your progress periodically. Ensure that the necessary actions are taking place to reduce waste and overuse of electricity. Check your list of key targeted areas of improvement and consider how effective your methods have been throughout your project. Take notes and ask for feedback from your employees about how much (or how little) impact your program is having on your energy consumption. Also take note of employees who make extra effort to help you and contribute to the achievement of your goals.

Begin measuring your goals during this step and try to gauge how well you are accomplishing them. This phase is also the best time to start establishing benchmarks and trends. Show your employees your findings and ask if they have noticed any improvements or lack thereof. You will also find that the Tracking Progress step will be your ideal opportunity to pinpoint problems or gaps in your plan. If you are having trouble reducing electricity costs in one area, take note of it and push it to the top of the list for the next quarter.

Step Five: Reward, Rethink, Revise

By the time you?ve reached step five, you will hopefully have had your plan in action for one quarter, or about three months. Of course, the period you choose is up to you, but three months allows plenty of time, plenty of leeway and a good amount of time for your energy conservation methods to have shown a measurable impact. Once the first period of your plan has run its course, it is time to perform the final step and prepare to start a new quarter with your electricity savings plan.

At this point, you might want to first reward employees who showed a sound and dedicated effort in reducing your company?s electricity usage and energy costs. Perhaps you found that a particular staff member aided you in executing the plan and tracking its progress as well. These types of actions will dramatically affect your success and, as such, they should be rewarded. Whether it?s a small announcement with a ?pat on the back? or a tangible prize, you will see a greater sense of team effort coming from staff members when they are recognized and rewarded for their help in this crucial role.

Use this transitional phase between quarters to rethink your plan. Which areas showed only minimal improvement? Did you accomplish all of your goals? Have any of your energy costs been diminished? Are there any new methods I could implement to get better results? Ask these questions, involve your staff, measure your accomplishments and revise your plan accordingly. The idea is to consistently improve your electricity conservation strategy and find the best methods by which to motivate your team and accomplish your goals.