Plug Loads and Energy Efficiency

Plug loads—the energy used by devices connected to outlets—make up 20% of energy use in buildings and their consumption rate is rising.[1] These resources and action items provide you with the tools to tackle the source of one of the fastest-growing areas of energy use.

Toolkit Resources

Scorecard Action Items

Potential Points: 150

Have LEAP give a free presentation about energy use to your company 10 Points

Discuss with staff expectations and suggestions for reducing plug load from lighting, appliances, computers etc. 20 Points

Replace one or more of your highest energy-using pieces of equipment with a more energy efficient model 50 Points

Employ “Smart” power strips to reduce plug load energy demand 20 Points

Employ sleep settings, equipment timers and energy saving models on equipment 10 Points

Establish company policy or written expectation that all purchased equipment be EPEAT or EnergyStar if available 20 Points

Establish staff policy regarding discretionary energy use 20 Points

Additional Information

When examining the composition of commercial energy demand, only HVAC rivals the energy use of plug loads from appliances and equipment. A plug load is energy consumed by equipment that is usually plugged in around the clock and not unplugged. As seen below, plug loads (computer/office equipment and “other uses”) make up a substantial portion of commercial energy use. Fortunately for business owners, there are solutions; for example, the use of smart power strips to shut down computers and other office equipment when not in use can save as much as 10% on energy costs. Smart power strips have circuits that are designed to limit energy consumption by switching off power to outlets that are assigned to turn off once the devices themselves are turned off.


[1] "Plug Loads: Usage and Energy Consumption Analysis." Raghunath Reddy, K. Niranjan, Asha Swaroopa and Vishal Garg. International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, India