Energy-efficient behavior

What will you do to save energy and help reduce the impacts of climate change?

Choose the actions you are ready to do:



Turn off your monitor. If you turn off your monitor when you are gone for 20 minutes or more and at the end of the day even if it has low-power sleep mode, it extends the monitor's lifetime.


Put your computer in standby mode when you leave the office for 2 hours or more. It uses only 1 more watt than a computer that is completely turned off!


Turn the computer and monitor off at the end of the day. About 125 kWh is saved every night for every computer and monitor turned off.



Turn off modular task lights or your office light when you go to a meeting or leave your desk for 15 minutes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a general rule-of-thumb for when to turn off a fluorescent light is if you leave a room for more than 15 minutes, it is probably more cost effective to turn the light off. We’re being a bit more conservative, because turning a fluorescent light on and off many times a day does shorten its life span. For those of you concerned about the energy used to start a fluorescent bulb, please visit EERE's web page: When to Turn Off Your Lights.   


Turn out office lights and modular task lights, when you leave at the end of the day. MPCA has 667 modular workstations with an estimated total of 1,334 18-watt bulbs resulting in savings of 288 kWh if every task light is turned off overnight. Even though we have motion-sensing devices that turn office lights off after 10 to 15 minutes, we could save 54 hours of electricity each year per office by not waiting for the motion-sensor to kick in.


Remove light bulbs from overhead fixtures. If you are beside a window or in an office with multiple banks of lights, you may be able to reduce the number of bulbs that are lit and still provide adequate lighting for your work. Contact your office administrator. However, do not reduce the number of lights in "pods" of workspace unless all of the staff involved agree to the change.

Window blinds:


Lower and close your blinds (if by a window and the cord is accessible) at the end of the day. Windows have the lowest insulation value of any element of the building envelope. An air space is created between the blinds and the window that increases the resistance to heat flow (similar to trapping an air pocket between the panes in double-paned windows). Please consider safety first. If your blinds need repair or you need a longer cord to access the blinds, please contact your office administrator.


Adjust the blinds during the day if sitting at a south/west window to block the heat of the day. When the sun is at its peak, close the blinds with the leading edge up to reduce heat gain by around 45%, according to the US Department of Energy.

Appliances and chargers:


Unplug or put a timer on appliances—coffee makers, microwaves, etc.—in break rooms when not in use. Nearly 20 percent of the electricity used by appliances is lost while they are sitting in the standby mode, waiting to be used, according to Lawrence Berkley Laboratory.


Unplug "wall wart" chargers for phones, blackberries, etc. Power adapters have earned the sobriquet of "energy vampires" because they keep sucking energy even when the device they power isn't being charged. The latest estimates are that 5 percent of electricity used in the United States is being used for stand-by power. In 2000, a group of researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that each year Americans spend about $4 billion on standby power. Generating that much electricity puts roughly 27 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions into the atmosphere (more than 3.7 million cars' worth) every year.


Unplug personal refrigerators and other small appliances when you are gone for more than 3 days. An unused appliance completely wastes the energy used to keep it operating. Nearly 20 percent of the electricity used by appliances is lost while they are sitting in the standby mode, waiting to be used, according to Lawrence Berkley Laboratory.


Replace your personal refrigerator with an Energy Star compact refrigerator. A new Energy Star refrigerator uses about 20% less energy than a standard new refrigerator and 46% less than one made before 1980. According to the U.S. EPA, replacing 20 compact refrigerators with Energy Star appliances saves 15,495 kWh, 23,863 pounds of CO2 (equivalent to 1.98 cars) and is the same as planting 2.46 acres of forest. Visit for more information


Get rid of your personal refrigerator and use the break room refrigerators. A small dorm-type refrigerator (3 cu. ft.) consumes about 340 kilowatt hours a year. This is equivalent to 290 pounds of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, according to U.S. EPA. Even though the break room refrigerator might be older and less efficient than your dorm refrigerator, it’s bigger, thus the per unit energy use goes down with an increase in use.