In 2020, millions of people suddenly found themselves working from home. Fortunately, technology makes working from home more efficient than ever. High-speed internet and ultra-fast computers make video conferencing possible. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are two examples.
There are many implications for households, including energy use. Many employers support sustainable office practices. Now, it’s your turn to do the same with your home office. While working from home, you can do your part to reduce energy use while contributing to a more sustainable future.
First, some good news. You save money and energy simply by skipping that daily commute. When you don’t drive your gas or diesel-powered vehicle, you reduce the demand for fossil fuels. You also lower carbon emissions. In the United States, the average round-trip commute is about 30 miles. According to the EPA, the average new-vehicle fuel economy increased from 24.2 mpg in 2013 to 25.1 mpg in 2018, An average commute in a vehicle with typical fuel economy requires about six gallons of gas per week. Even with gas at $2.00 per gallon, eliminating that commute saves approximately $50 per month.
Save Money and Energy With These Tips
Create a more sustainable home office by doing the following.
Only condition the air where you are
Before work-from-home (WFH) arrived, your employer was picking up the tab for keeping you comfortable at the office. The heating and cooling that your employer paid for is now your responsibility. In the past, commuters adjusted their programmable thermostats to account for their absence. Now, WFH individuals are paying more to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
When you work from home, don’t heat or cool the air in uninhabited spaces. Close the doors to unoccupied spaces. Shut the registers in the rooms you’re not using. Focus that conditioned air where it counts, in your home office.
Make your workspace draft-free
That draft you feel is a sign of outdoor air invading your home. Ensure a more comfortable home office by eliminating unwanted air infiltration. According to Good Housekeeping, there are many sources of drafts. Window frames, fireplace dampers, baseboards, electrical outlets, switch plates and vents are examples. Outdoor air also comes in through that gap between a portable air conditioner and a window frame.
Reduce air infiltration and save energy with the right products. Caulk, spray foam, caulk tape and door sweeps are some examples. If you rent, speak with the landlord or property manager before sealing air gaps. Sometimes, they will do the work for you.
Use clean air filters for lower utility bills
Clogged air filters strain your furnace and central air. This can waste electricity and shorten equipment lifespans. A dirty HVAC filter will waste energy faster than you might think. Energy supplier Entergy says that a dirty HVAC filter may increase your system’s energy use by as much as 15 percent. A dirty filter may also cause allergens to recirculate. This can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma. Clogged filters may also reduce comfort by causing irregular heating and cooling.
Suppress the surge
Many electronic devices still draw power when they are not in use. In a home office, the use of a UL 1449-rated surge suppressor is a must. Some call it a surge protector or power strip. Plug your office equipment into the strip, making it easy to shut everything off with the flick of a switch. The device also protects your valuable equipment from voltage surges that can travel through electrical systems, phone lines or TV cables.
“Since my home was connected to a Smart Electric/Gas Meter I have seen a noticeable increase in my electric usage/bill. I became aware of the energy saving “Smart” powerstrip and believed this was one of many options I could use to reduce transient energy use. It is used in my home office and allows my non-essential electronics to power off completely when my computer is turned off or goes to sleep. It works! “
A cool idea to rid yourself of hot lights
LED light bulbs are quite an innovation. According to energy.gov, they can reduce energy consumption by a whopping 75-80 percent. Traditional incandescent bulbs also emit heat, adding to the cost of air conditioning. Swap out those old incandescents for LEDs without delay.
Whenever possible, choose natural over artificial light. Open those blinds, shades and drapes to take advantage of natural light. The price is right. It’s free!
Be a star, an ENERGY STAR
The U.S. Department of Energy rates energy-consuming products used in the home. This includes everything from refrigerators to computer equipment. If you need equipment for your home office, always choose ENERGY STAR-certified equipment. This includes computers, monitors, printers and VOIP phones.
Employing these ideas will impact both your pocketbook and the environment in a significant way. Save hundreds of dollars per year while making your household more sustainable. What happens when millions of WFH individuals make contributions? It’s like rain. A drop here and a drop there, and soon you have a river. The multiplier effect is a powerful force in the quest for a more sustainable future.
So, do you want to do your part and join the PerSus community today? You’ll soon be able to download the PerSus app and get started making a difference in your community by taking control of your personal sustainability. Sign up below to be the first one to know when it’s live!