Printing business environmental impact

Printing business energy efficiency

There are several ways printing businesses can reduce energy use. You should check whether machines can automatically go on stand-by when they're not used for a period of time and make sure this is activated. Where appropriate, switch off machines completely when they are not in use for long periods - such as overnight or at weekends.

You should also factor energy costs into purchasing decisions. Consider the following:

  • when you buy a new machine, choose the most energy-efficient model that meets your production requirements - compare the energy consumption in production, idle and sleep modes
  • ensure that machines are set up and operated according to the manufacturer's recommendations on energy efficiency and ensure all users know the correct settings
  • consider whether the machine can be turned off manually at night or whether you could use a plug-in timer?
  • estimate the energy cost per copy and per week, given your operating hours and projected copy volumes, and factor this into your purchasing decisions

You can also cut energy costs by:

  • ensuring staff turn off lights when they're not needed
  • unplugging or switching off chargers - eg for mobile telephones and cameras - when they're not in use
  • using plug sockets that can turn off multiple items with only one switch
  • installing localised lighting controls - eg pull switches above workstations and timer switches - or movement detectors in infrequently occupied areas - eg washrooms and coffee areas
  • installing insulation for doors, windows, roofs and walls

Many of the technologies your business could employ to reduce energy use may be eligible for tax allowances under the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme - see first-year allowances for energy saving products.

Energy Star

The Energy Star logo means that the energy consumption of an appliance - eg computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and imaging equipment - is below an agreed level when in standby mode. Consider buying office and imaging products that have the logo as they use up to 60 per cent less electricity than standard equipment.

Cooling and heating your premises

Most papers don't need environmental control where the air temperature is above 12°C - although you may need some form of enhanced ventilation when machines are operated in enclosed areas. Consider alternatives to air conditioning - such as natural ventilation, extraction fans and adiabatic cooling systems.

If you have air conditioning systems, use them efficiently and get them inspected regularly. See our guide on how to use air conditioning systems efficiently and responsibly.

You should also ensure heaters are energy efficient and serviced at least annually. Ensure you can control heaters locally - see how to use heating and hot water systems efficiently.