Department of Commerce

Save ~$20 Million/Day in Energy Costs with Scheduled Outages

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The Federal Government is the Nation’s largest single energy consumer and occupies over 3 billion square feet of office space. Executive Order 13514 charges agencies with increasing energy efficiency and reducing operating expenses in Federal buildings by 3% per year. Many agencies already cut the HVAC power or office lights after regular working hours and on weekends. However, there are several periods throughout the year where a large percentage of employees are on leave and operational costs are essentially the same whether an office building is fully or partially occupied.


With this proposal, agencies may schedule outages on days throughout the year where energy costs are typically high and where building/floor occupancy is lower than average. For instance, scheduled outages may occur on select Fridays in summer, the day before and/or after (and including) Federal holidays, or the week before New Years.


To ensure the program minimizes impact and fosters a family friendly workplace, employees may appropriately account for their time during these scheduled outages without using their accrued leave or providing administrative leave.


During an outage, employees may 1) use an earned pool of hours created for this program (similar to or including compensatory time or credit hours); 2) flex in accordance with their approved work schedule; 3) telework hours in accordance with their approved telework program, and/or 4) use approved leave. Tying to days when many employees traditionally are out of the office provides employees the option to use their leave or preserve it for later.


The Federal Government can implement this program with little to no start-up costs and save an estimated $20 million dollars in utility costs alone for each scheduled outage day. Used in conjunction with current energy saving mechanisms will further compound these savings. In addition, other savings may be obtained from scaling back on services or contract support during an outage.

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Idea No. 14772