Employees at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) appear to be ignoring their own energy-saving advice. The agency, which is authorized to spend $16.8 billion of the federal stimulus within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy alone, failed a recent inspector general energy efficienty audit, notes The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog today.

The audit, which surveyed seven of the agency's major sites, detailed the DoE's "efforts to manage information technology resources in an energy-efficient and environmentally responsible manner." It found that the agency was squandering enough energy on unnecessary IT to power 2,400 homes for a year, at a cost of more than $1.5 million. 

Simple steps such as turning off computer monitors when they're not in use, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests, weren't being followed at any of the National Energy Technology Laboratory computers, and about half of the computer monitors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee were set to stay on for 48 hours when not in use—144 times longer than EPA recommendations.

As the WSJ notes, the audit "highlights one of the toughest challenges in curbing energy usage:" changing peoples' habits. A study earlier this year estimates that nationwide, workers waste $2.8 billion in energy costs just by leaving their computers on when they leave work.

Department of Energy seal courtesy of Wikimedia Commons