As many of us across the city settle into our new routine of working from our home offices, it’s a good time to think about ways to keep our home energy consumption (and utility bills) to a minimum. Working from home is generally considered to have many environmental benefits, like reducing the number of people driving to work, and cutting down on office building energy needs. But working from home also means you will be using more energy at home than you usually would.
Here are our top tips to increase the energy efficiency of your home office:
Turn off the lights!
Chances are, your home has more natural light than your office. Make the most of it by opening your curtains during the day and switching off your lights. The bonus? Natural light is known to be good for your mental health and productivity.
Grab a blanket
It may not be smart, or even casual. But when you’re working from home it doesn’t really matter. By keeping a blanket handy while you work you can avoid cranking up the heat to keep warm. Just make sure to hide it on your lap when video-conferencing with your boss!
Unplug all distractions
You’d be surprised at how many distractions are hiding in your home. The good news is that by unplugging everything you’re not using for work including the printer, any chargers lying around the house, TVs and other screens, you’ll be doing the planet and your productivity a favour. Cutting down on a little vampire energy every day will go a long way.
Manage your time efficiently
Some people prefer working from home rather than going to the office because they can focus on their work without the distractions of the office – coffee breaks, noisy coworkers, endless in-person meetings. Getting your work done faster means you free up time for other things – like going outside or reading. By clocking out early you are also reducing the amount of time you spend plugged in, but don’t forget to turn off your computer and any other work-related technology when you stop working!
Use energy-efficient equipment
When it comes to energy efficiency, labels are important. Where possible, make sure you are using ENERGY STAR qualified products (find a list of them here) as these will guarantee you are getting the highest energy efficiency from your equipment. Another great option if you’re looking for new equipment with lower energy consumption is to use refurbished equipment. It’s both cheaper and greener.
Seal any holes around outlets
How airtight is your home? Without an energy audit you won’t ever know for sure. But, if you can feel cold air coming out from around an outlet or light switch the good news is there are some inexpensive fixes you can install yourself. One option is an outlet gasket underneath the cover plate (careful when installing these!). Another is even easier: insert childproof plugs to stop any air from coming through the socket holes.
Check your energy-saving settings
Most computers these days have built-in settings to help you save energy. Check your system preferences and set them to low power or energy-saving mode where possible.
Smart power strips
A small investment will give you high energy saving returns. By plugging all your work-related equipment into a smart power strip you can ensure that you won’t be drawing power when you’re not at work while leaving you the option of keeping your most essential devices “always on”.