Growing up, my family used to joke that the first sign of spring was the heater turning on in our house.  Sure the rest of the world relied on more popular indicators like Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow or pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, but when my dad gave in and finally fired-up the furnace, you could bet that the outside thermostat had past its nadir.


Eleven years and 2,582 miles later, temperature control plays a much smaller role in my everyday life, but I’ve come to realize that the importance of energy efficiency is here to stay.  Energy efficiency has become a dominant theme in nearly every product announcement I cover, trade show I attend, and annual report that I review.  Although there are surely altruistic forces involved in this trend across most industries, you can bet that office machine manufacturers and dealers are primarily motivated by a more established reason – increasing sales.  Like my old man, bill-payers across the country are determined to reduce the role that energy-use plays into their ownership costs and are far more likely to be persuaded by a device’s energy savings if presented to them in dollar terms.  This is especially true among small and medium-sized businesses, where the vast majority of green initiatives have nothing to do with carbon footprints or polar icecaps and everything to do with controlling expenses.

MFP manufacturers and dealers have increasingly touted energy-saving features in recent years, but none have effectively translated lower energy consumption into true cost savings – until now.  Mixed into the procession of sustainability forecasts and overwhelmingly-vague savings claims, Riso released a report boasting that its devices offer 95 percent energy cost savings compared to copier-based MFPs.  Although Riso’s energy savings claim is open to debate, the duplicator manufacturer introduced a pretty slick to back it up.  By entering a given MFP’s market segment, energy consumption specs, and device usage levels, along with your local KW/hour rate the Riso calculator will tell you exactly how much you can save by switching systems.  Not since ESPN launched the has a tool come out that combines so many variables and creates such tangible results.  The Riso calculator also comes in excel-form, clearing the vendor from any allegations of fuzzy math and allowing manufacturers, dealers, purchasers, and analysts alike to make the calculator their own.


Based on the Riso Energy Savings Machine, the average Segment 4 MFP that produces 25,000 prints per month will accrue over $255 in energy costs per year.  Meanwhile, a Riso system with the same usage levels will consume just $16.55 worth of electricity over the same period.  Our sample Segment 4 MFP’s annual energy costs are greater than ten percent of the device’s annual service and maintenance fees and after five years of use, the MFP’s accumulated energy costs can equal roughly 20 percent of the system’s original purchase price.  Combine that with Riso’s claim that office machines are responsible for 7 percent of all commercial electricity costs ($1.8 billion annually) and energy consumption quickly becomes an undeniable metric for corporate purchasers in all segments.

Not surprisingly, it took a duplicator vendor to fully incorporate energy consumption into the MFP cost equation.  Duplicator manufacturers have long embraced claims of low system and usage costs as selling points against MFPs, while glossing-over the print volumes that are required and the flexibility that is sacrificed in order to achieve these savings.  And based on its recent efforts, it is clear that Riso has adopted energy savings as yet another competitive metric to use in its apples-to-fruit salad comparisons.  That said, translating energy costs into dollars proves more useful when comparing mainstream office imaging devices.  After all, even the NBA Trade Machine limits possible trades to players that are in the same league.


While copier dealers will still embrace the principles of products, solutions, pricing, service, and relationships as keys to selling, the peripheral costs associated with energy consumption provide significant opportunities from both sides of the bargaining table.  In an industry where deals are made and lost over a mil, one system’s $0.0001 per-click energy savings over another’s – multiplied across a fleet’s worth of clicks and five years of use – will translate well with any purchaser that also pays the electric bill.  Energy Star certifications and sustainability claims all help to support an energy efficient message at a superficial level, but you can bet your last carbon credit that purchasers from Main Street to Wall Street will be better persuaded with actual dollar values.

Additionally, energy costs can be applied to a wide variety of products, solutions, and selling situations.

  • Dealers attempting to replace an underutilized workgroup MFP with a desktop model only have to compute standby energy costs accrued during downtimes to add another layer to their value proposition.

  • Managed print service providers that are trying to sell an IT manager on a fleet consolidation can easily utilize energy savings figures to compliment their efficiency-based message.

Although the adoption of energy costs as a recognized pricing metric is still nascent, a growing number of manufacturers and purchasers are utilizing consumption tools in their processes.  Xerox’ consulting arm includes an eco-friendly component and provides a

of its own.  Ricoh plans to commercialize an energy consumption and monitoring solution that uses IBM’s Tivoli software later this year. The state of

requires itemized energy costs for each MFP offered through its pricing agreements, holding state agencies responsible for controlling both traditional and power-based imaging costs (MA’s energy CPCs are way higher than Riso’s).  Even Colombia University provides its purchasers with an that includes general costs for a variety of office equipment types, as well as data on the products’ annual carbon output.

At a time when the word “savings” is as attractive as ever, the opportunity to fully embrace a cost-centric energy message has arrived.  Now it’s up to manufacturers and dealers to seize this opportunity.


I hate to pick on the Big 3 US auto makers when they are down, but it is no coincidence that the best-positioned car manufacturers today were also the first to address consumer demand to improve their vehicles’ miles-per gallon.  Just saying…