On 27 July 2006, theatres, shops and a tube station in Central London closed as a surge in demand from air-conditioning forced an electricity company to shut off power.Though rare, events like this tell us something about the future. Turning up the office air conditioning is not the answer to global warming.

But, if global warming is a threat, it is also an opportunity. It offers managers and employees a persuasive argument for change. Reduce unnecessary energy consumption and we cut our costs and improve air quality. 

Air conditioning should be a last resort. It uses colossal amounts of electricity. In fact, a single portable home air conditioning unit could be drawing as much power as one hundred 10” desk fans!

Instead of reaching to switch it on, try shading areas from direct sunlight using blinds. Try creating a cooling through-draught by opening windows on opposite sides of the office. This, coupled with fans, may be enough.

Or, where air conditioning is a must, switch to a 100% ‘green’ electricity supply. That way, cooling your indoor environment won’t cause more of the emissions which, scientists warn us, are forcing up the outside temperature across the globe.

Worthwhile energy savings can be surprisingly easy. Here are some examples:

•  Switch off computers and screens when not required
•  Use natural light wherever practical
•  Try natural ventilation before resorting to fans or air conditioning
•  Avoid using heating and air conditioning simultaneously
•  If heating or air conditioning is switched on, be sure to shut all windows and doors
•  Switch photocopiers and printers off overnight if not in use
•  Boil only the amount of water you need

For further information on saving energy, contact the Energy Efficiency Advice Centre on 0800 512 012 or visit www.mkea.org.uk/saveatwork.html.