Working from home comes with a lot of perks – no commute, freedom to wear what you want, and more time with your family and pets – but, it could result in higher utility bills. When you head into your company’s office you and your co-workers may not be concerned about turning off the lights or to what temperature the thermostat is set, but every action you take related to energy use at your home office can impact your monthly costs. Follow these suggestions to limit the rise in your bills, while also ensuring your home office is energy efficient.
Save Energy With Dedicated Office Space
While laptops and iPads give you the flexibility to work anywhere, if you are going to spend time working from your home, you should establish a primary office space. You may like to check your emails while sipping your coffee at the kitchen table, but the rest of your time should primarily be spent in one room of the house. By doing so, you limit the amount of lights needed, you only need to focus on maintaining a comfortable temperature in one room, you can set up a charging station for your mobile devices, and you can plug everything into one power strip making it easy to shut down at the end of the day. Not to mention, everything you need is right at your fingertips.
Use Efficient Equipment For Heating and Cooling
If you spend most of your day in your home office, and no one else is home at the time, there is no need to cool or heat the entire house. Set the thermostat as if you are away for the day and use ceiling fans and portable heaters as a supplement to keep the room comfortable.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ceiling fans are efficient for cooling a room. When properly sized and installed in your office, a ceiling fan will allow you to “raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.” The cooling effect is from the air circulating on your body, so turn it on when you enter the room and off when you leave.
Alternatively, in the cooler months, a portable space heater can be just as efficient to maintain a warm temperature in the office, while lowering the thermostat setting. Close the door when in the office to prevent the extra heat from escaping.
Both of these options can make a significant difference to your bills. Industry experts report that just a one-degree change in the thermostat can result in a two percent savings in costs.
Lower Electricity Use With A Well-Lit Space
Ideally, your home office will have a nice window to allow in adequate light during the daytime hours without needing an overhead light or lamp. For those cloudy days, late nights, and focused work use lights with energy-efficient bulbs. Specifically, energy-efficient light bulbs, including LED, halogen incandescent, and compact fluorescent lamps, use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional bulbs and last 3-25 times longer. Consider placing them throughout your house to save even more on your electric bill.
During the winter months, that extra sunshine will help keep you warmer, but in the warmer months that sun may tempt you to lower the thermostat to cool it off a bit. Instead, install and use energy efficient shades or drapes to keep the heat out during the summer, and the heat in during the winter.
Use Home Office Equipment Wisely
Some of your technology may be provided by your company, but if you are freelancing or just like to have additional equipment available, consider the following for working greener:
Use ENERGY STAR certified office equipment. ENERGY STAR products are backed by the U.S. government for energy efficiency. Look for the ENERGY STAR symbol on the printers, computers and other equipment you use every day to use less energy throughout the day. With an ENERGY STAR home you may realize a 20% improvement, on average, on energy efficiency.
Limit your printing to save on paper, ink and electricity. Go green and save money on supplies and electricity when you cut back on what you print and copy. Email documents to coworkers, save copies online instead of filing paper copies away in a file cabinet, and read more online to save trees and electricity.
Use a power strip. Plug everything into a power strip so that you can quickly and easily turn everything off at the end of the day. Some equipment can continue to draw power even when off, but a power strip will eliminate that draw and save you money.
Other Ways To Find Energy Savings
In addition to finding ways to an energy efficient home office inside, look for ways that you can save on the outside too. For example, where is your energy coming from? Sourcing renewable energy for your home is an excellent way to both save money and have a positive impact on the environment. Find out how you can access solar energy without ever having to install solar panels on your home.