Higher energy expenses for integrated home offices and residences are a reality for the growing number of Americans working from home, including the 18 million home-based business owners and 5 million remote employees, not to mention the unemployed individuals conducting job searches from their own PCs. These tips for saving energy not only help to reduce potentially damaging contributions to the environment but also can save money and resources.
Increased electricity costs to run office machinery and lighting are an unavoidable expense of working from home.
When lights, appliances, and devices in other rooms are left on when they are not in use, trips to the kitchen for meals and snacks and other parts of the house for other purposes also burn the electricity. This chilly winter, with increasing rates for home heating oil and natural gas, makes it particularly difficult to minimize home office energy bills from eating away the earnings. A/C will soon need to be on nonstop for home employees due to the heat of the summer.
Despite these obstacles, the Alliance to Save Energy claims that by following these guidelines, home-based business owners, telecommuters, and job searchers can lower their energy expenditures while maintaining comfort and “taking care of business”:
Guidelines on Lowering Energy Expenditures While Maintaining Comfort
- Reduce energy expenses and lengthen the lifespan of equipment, and turn on “sleep” capabilities on computers, copiers, and other devices that shut down when the equipment is on but not in use for a while. Screen savers ARE NOT
- energy savers.
- Insulate that office and the entire home adequately. Weatherstripping doors and their frames, as well as sealing spaces between stationary objects, will stop any energy “leaks” in your home office (window frames and walls).
- Use efficient lighting in your office. . Electricity use always rises when lights are on for a large portion of the day. In hot weather, poor lighting can cause your office to overheat and raise cooling costs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and task lighting can help you save money when used in your home office. Compared to halogen or incandescent lights, CFLs burn more evenly and consume up to 75% less energy. Halogen torches cost a lot to run and can catch fire from their intense heat. Instead, get an Energy Star torchiere lamp for safety and improved efficiency.
- Choose Energy Star-certified computers, monitors, printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines, multi-function devices (machines that combine printing, scanning, and faxing), lighting, cordless phones, answering machines, audio equipment, and room air conditioners to reduce associated annual energy costs by 30%. The mark of energy effectiveness is called the Energy Star.
- Electronics that never sleep will drain your bank account. Further raising those electric expenditures is work that necessitates devices like phones, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, or cable boxes. That’s because they use energy even when off to keep the remote controls, memory chips, and display clocks glowing.
- Close the vents for heating and cooling when working in your home office. For greater efficiency, clean or replace the furnace and room air conditioner air filters once a month. Ask the technician to check the system’s sizing, efficiency, and ducts for leaks when you have your furnace or heat pump professionally “tuned up” every year.
- Keep the drapes or blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight open during the day to assist heat your home office. After dusk, close the blinds to maintain the heat throughout the night. Reduce cooling expenditures in the summer by closing the blinds or curtains on glass doors and windows that face the sun.