Working from home provides plenty of benefits, including flexible schedules, later morning alarms, and no long commutes. And while your wallet and the environment may benefit by eliminating a commute, remote work can drain your home’s energy and increase your monthly electric expenses.
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to ensure that your work-from-home (WFH) schedule doesn’t send your energy costs skyrocketing. Read on to learn what home office devices are consuming the most energy and what steps you can take to save on your electric bill.
Identify Energy Hogs and Vampires
Some devices in your home office setup are likely sucking up more energy than others. Computers are major energy users and fall under the category of “energy vampires”—electronics that consume electricity even when off or in standby mode. Other energy vampires include wall chargers, printers, and game consoles —basically, any device with a light on, even when in sleep mode, uses power.
Naturally, one of the best ways to save energy at home is to turn off your computer when not using it and unplug electronics that aren’t in active use. You can also purchase power strips to turn off the electricity to multiple items with the flip of a switch.
Take Advantage of Natural Light
It can be tempting to keep the lights on all day in your office area when working from home. But you can easily save electricity at home by opening the blinds and curtains and letting in some sunlight. Natural light is an energy-saving renewable energy source and can boost your mood and help you feel relaxed.
If your desk is a little far from the windows, consider rearranging your office to shed more light on your workspace and improve your work-from-home efficiency. And if you’re concerned about privacy, hang some lightweight curtains that allow the outside light to filter in without giving your neighbors a view into your home.
Improve Your Home’s Insulation
Heating and cooling are likely the biggest expenses on your electric bill, so it’s important to ensure your home is properly insulated. When working remotely, you are home more often and more likely to use the HVAC system to stay comfortable. Insulation can ensure that warm or cold air isn’t escaping outside and is one of the best ways to conserve energy at home.
During the winter, look for the sources of cold drafts in your home. In these areas, the warm air escapes in the colder months, and cold air is wasted in summer. Weather-strip or caulk any cracks to make sure that all your comfortable air stays in the house, allowing you to save energy at home.
Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Insulation isn’t the only way to keep your home comfortable without breaking the bank. By controlling the temperature, you can use a smart thermostat to keep your HVAC units from working harder than they need to, creating a more energy-efficient home.
With a smart thermostat, you can set schedules and timers to help avoid the temptation to adjust the temperature during your workday. The smart thermostat will keep your home at an optimal temperature throughout the day, whether you’re away on a grocery run or working hard in your home office.
Thermostats aren’t the only smart devices that can help you save energy. Smart ceiling fans, lighting, timers, and other products can help you save more energy with smart home automation.
Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs
Traditional incandescent light bulbs are the most common because they’re the cheapest, but they can be a significant waste of energy. In fact, most of their electricity consumption turns into heat, not light.
One of the easiest ways to save energy at home is to replace any incandescent bulbs with LEDs, which are up to 75% more energy-efficient and have a longer lifetime. Although LED bulbs cost a little more upfront, you’ll make more than that money back with your energy savings and won’t have to replace your light bulbs nearly as often.
When purchasing new home office equipment, like a new laptop or printer, look for products with the ENERGY STAR® label. These products are more energy-efficient, typically using 10% to 40% less energy than appliances and devices without the label.
Time for a new computer? Consider purchasing a laptop. Not only is a laptop portable and easy to use anywhere, but it also uses significantly less energy than a desktop computer, allowing you to save electricity at home.
Make Small Changes
Not every new habit or change you make to your work-from-home space costs money. Here are a few tips for how to save energy at home when working remotely:
- Keep lamps and electronics away from the thermostat. The heat from these devices can cause your AC unit to run longer than necessary.
- Turn on ceiling fans when you’re in the room.
- Switch your air conditioning unit to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which can save you as much as 18% on your cooling bill.
- Turn down your water heater.
- When making lunch at home, use the microwave, toaster, or toaster oven instead of the stove.
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