Plug Load Project

        Plugged in devices and equipment account for approximately 47% of all electricity usage in commercial buildings. With an average of seven plug-in devices per employee ranging from computers to coffee makers to battery chargers, managing plug load can be a challenge. 

       The good news is that there are a number of low and no-cost ​options that can help achieve significant reductions in plug load, saving your organization money and reducing its carbon footprint.

Steps to Reducing Plug Load​

  • ​​​​Use an integrated team approach​
Establish a plug load champion and a team representing various departments within your organization. Develop a business case for addressing plug loads, build awareness, and encourage feedback from employees on specific equipment needs and opportunities.

Plug Load Team Checklist Form

  • ​Conduct a plug load audit
Inventory all plugged in equipment and determine its usage period to establish a baseline.
Consider a team walkthrough of common areas and then engage employees by encouraging them to audit their own workspaces. Build awareness of plug load draw by making Kill a Watt meters available to employees to test their equipment in various power modes (on/off/standby).

  • Ensure use of power management features
Power management features that allow equipment to go into standby mode when it has been idle for a specified period of time provide an easy, no-cost way to reduce energy usage  Ensure settings are active when equipment is installed and/or issued to employees and discourage them from being disabled.  

  • Power down at night and weekends 
Work with your IT Department to allow and encourage occupants to power down computers, monitors, printers and copiers at night. The ENERGY STAR program offers free technical assistance to assist IT departments to overcome any technical barriers to powering down at night when it comes to scheduling software updates and other maintenance. Display monitors have increasingly replaced signage for directions, menus etc.  These should also be powered down during off hours.  

ENERGY STAR Ask the Experts

  • Install smart power strips, timers, and other energy-saving devices
Many devices never completely turn off in order to start quickly when the user activates the device. This power draw when not in​ use is referred to as a parasitic, phantom or vampire load. 
Electrici​ty usage monitors like Kill A Watt meters help determine which devices draw current in the off mode and should be unplugged when not in use.  More convenient is the use of smart power strips which detect when a device has gone into standby mode and automatically cut the power to that outlet. Wi-Fi controlled smart plugs and timers are also useful in setting usage periods.   

Consider integrative solutions that connect lighting, HVAC and plug load systems to monitor and control them together. Systems using learning behavior algorithms have been applied to HVAC and lighting more frequently than plug load applications, but more sytems are becoming available that learn occupant behavior and adjust plug load controls accordingly.  

EnergyMisers for vending machines

  • ​​Procure energy efficient equipment
Choose ENERGY STAR certified equipment to replace legacy equipment.  Consolidate equipment where possible (e.g. replacing individual printers with a shared multifunction printer). 
Upgrade to energy efficient monitors and consider replacing desktop computers with laptops which are more energy efficient.​

  • ​​Train​ and engage employees​
To realize the full advantage of your organization's plug load policies and systems, the message of their importance needs to be reinforced throughout the life of the system. Inform staff on how the policies, equipment and settings are achieving energy savings. This can be accomplished through in-person or video training, emails, employee newsletters, competition among units/floors, signage, stickers on equipment,​ and periodic updates on progress.


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