Energy efficiency is the cornerstone of My Green Doctor. This is where a doctor’s office can capture the greatest financial savings and make the strongest community impact. Most of our offices are planned for patient care, and rarely with consideration for the cost of office operation and energy usage. Yet utility costs add substantially to the cost of doing business.
The word “energy” was coined by Aristotle, the 4C BCE Greek philosopher, to mean “at work.”When we use electric power we are getting work accomplished.”Energy efficiency” is the wise use of this work.
There are two key tenants to remember as you approach this topic: first, the cheapest kilowatt for your office will be the one that you never use, so cut your power use wherever you can; and second, look immediately for the “low hanging fruit,” the quick and inexpensive ways to save.
We provide dozens of Action Steps that your office can adopt for lowering your energy use and saving money. This will reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to generate electricity, reducing both the national fuel bill and the air pollution from the burning of these fuels. Every idea in this Workbook can be taken home to share with your family and your patients’ families.
Energy Efficiency Action Steps
We offer 50 Energy Efficiency Action Steps and Education Steps for you to consider for your office. We suggest that you begin with the five “Quick Start, Now!” Action Steps.
At your next meeting, consider some of the “Advanced Route” Action Steps for Energy Efficiency. Some of these require more planning and team work but they offer great long term rewards. A thorough energy efficiency plan may take months to formulate.
Finally, consider the “Education” Action Steps for Energy Efficiency in order to share energy concepts with your staff, families and patients.
We will lead you through each action step and challenge your Green Team to create new ideas by asking, “What else?” Please email us your ideas to add to the Workbook. These suggestions will help you toward Green Doctor Office Recognition.
Quick Start, Now! Action Steps for Energy Efficiency
Adopt a policy to turn off lights, computers, monitors, fax machines, copiers and printers at night. This saves a lot of energy and money. Set computer monitors to “sleep mode” if they must stay on. Plug all machines into power strips to make it easy to turn them off at night. Put reminder messages on machines to “Please turn me off!” Speak with your janitorial staff who may leave lights on at night.
Gather your bills for the past year to learn about your energy use. If you are in a building with many tenants, you may need to obtain a copy of the bills from your landlord. Ask a Green Team member to study your bills carefully for energy savings tips from your electric company. Bring ideas back to the Team. Review these regularly, perhaps every three months.
Change all incandescent lights to CFB’s (except where dimmer switches do not allow a CFB). A 75 watt incandescent bulb is replaced with a 25W CFB. Be sure that your office properly discards CFBs. A CFB contains 5mg elemental mercury, compared with 100mg in a mercury thermometer. Mercury is a serious neurotoxin. Contact your bulb supplier, hardware store (such as Home Deport), www.earth911.com/recycling, or call your local government to learn proper disposal procedures for your location. Teach every employee in your office, including the cleaning and maintenance staff.
Adopt an office policy to set thermostats to 74 degrees F (23 C) in the summer and 68 F (20 C) in the winter. Put reminder stickers on the thermostats for these settings. Assign a Team Member to inspect the office thermostats weekly or as needed.
Most doctor offices can safely turn off their hot water heaters, with no adverse health consequences. A large public health clinic in Pensacola, Florida studied this option, found it to be safe, and is saving hundreds of dollars annually.