The Costs of Cooling Empty Office Space

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Why do we leave air conditioning on in empty offices?

A study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has concluded that up to 30% of office air conditioning energy is wasted by running in empty rooms. This takes into account open spaces, meeting rooms and offices being left vacant for a significant amount of time each day. Up until recently, it was common place for many companies to leave their air conditioning units on at a lower temperature while employees were away or even all day if they did not have a need for them during these periods. The new research suggests that this may not be the most cost effective way of ventilating our buildings, especially when combined with the effects of leaving windows open in winter increasing heat loss through flooring and walls.

Because this research was monitored over a full year’s time, it was also able to show how other factors outside of occupancy affect cooling systems, such as weather conditions affecting window insulation performance or simply hotter seasons requiring more cooling power. In fact, it is estimated that just by considering these issues could save up to 25% of total energy used for cooling.

Why do we leave air conditioning on in empty offices?

Without proper ventilation, all the air inside a building will become musty and unhealthy. This could lead to damp, corrosion of chillers or boilers causing damage that could lead to vital components failing.

Many offices will have computers or servers that must be kept running in order for staff to remotely access data. If these servers overheat, staff will be unable to complete work which will incur further costs for the business.

What is the average cost of running air conditioning for empty office buildings?

On average it costs around £17 per day to cool a relatively small office building. For a week this amounts to £119 or £476 for a month. As energy prices are continuing to rise at an unprecedented rate, this should be something you keep a close eye on, and something you should account for when assessing your business budget moving forward.

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