How to save energy while working from home
Flexible hours and no commute can be good for your mental health, and your pocketbook
Whether you’re someone whose role at work was easily transitioned to a remote job or you now find yourself out of work and thinking about that side hustle (thanks, COVID), pretty much all of us are spending more time at home these days.
The good thing is that thanks to the world wide web, we can make our home into a productive work space without missing a beat. (Sort of. Our one-year-old son joining zoom calls has been a bit of an adjustment but such is life in 2020!)
With the luxury of doing work in our pajamas however, can come wasted energy use around your home. Here are some tips to keep you efficient.
1. Be the boss of your technology
Plug all your energy-hogging technology (laptops, phones, monitors etc) into a smart power strip, so you can limit charging time and phantom power (the energy a device uses when it's in standby mode).
If you're working on a laptop, cycling a battery is good for it. Keeping a laptop plugged in when it's fully charged can actually reduce its lifespan. More modern laptops do manage this for you where their batteries stop receiving "juice" from the wall outlet when they've reached their maximum charge level. Also, check your laptop to ensure you're optimizing its power and battery saving features.
If you have other devices that you only use occasionally, like a printer or scanner, keep them unplugged or on power bars to reduce phantom power.
Tip: If you have smart plugs, connect them to your most energy hogging appliances (like the fridge or deep freezer) and when demand for energy is high, you can actually get paid to turn them off with a free program called OhmConnect. Learn more here!
2. Daylight is your friend, and so are blinds!
Take advantage of natural light during the day instead of relying on overhead lights. Not only will you save money on your energy bill but it just feels nicer, doesn’t it?
Letting the sunshine in can help warm your home naturally during the winter, so you can limit how much you need to turn up the heat. During warmer months though, keep your shades drawn so you can keep the whole house cooler. When you do need to rely on lights, set up task lighting, such as a desk lamp or reading lamp, rather than an overhead ceiling light for a whole room.
Plus, everyone looks better on Zoom calls when lit by light coming in a window instead of an overhead light causing harsh shadows. (Who knew energy efficiency could also boost your self confidence?)
Trying to keep cool? Close the blinds in rooms you’re not in to prevent the sun from heating up the space unnecessarily. (Also perfect for that between-meeting nap! ;) )
3. Stay in the same spot
Moving from room to room while you work is an easy habit to form. (Sometimes I find myself setting up shop in the baby’s nursery if my husband is on a call in the office. Oy!) When possible, try setting up a dedicated workspace, so you can limit how much power you're using in otherwise empty rooms. For example, avoid keeping the TV on in another room for background noise. Not only will you save energy, but you'll probably concentrate a little better too!
Got a smart thermostat? Look into geofencing features thermostat if you have to leave the house for meetings. Geofencing is great for people with inconsistent schedules who can simply rely on the location of the geofence to tell the HVAC system whether it should be on or off.
In the winter months, make sure the thermostat is set low (you can even go into ‘away mode’) and use a space heater in the room you’re in.
4. Use that flexible schedule to your advantage
If you’re in a job that allows you to be a bit more flexible with your time, use that to your advantage as best you can.
Energy is most expensive during peak hours, or the hours when the highest number of people are trying to use it at the same time. Something as simple as running a load of laundry through the washer or dishes through the dishwasher during off-peak hours can save you a bundle on your energy bill. And the short break from your computer might even help you feel more productive when you get back to your desk!
5. Get paid for the energy you don’t use
Did you know that Californians have access to a program that will pay you to save energy during days when there’s extreme demand on the energy grid? It’s called OhmConnect.
Hundreds of thousands of Californians are signed up for the free, secure service that notifies you when there’s too much demand for electricity on the grid and then pays you if you can use less than your forecast.
Participating not only gives you a bit of extra spending money but it also means you’re helping avoid rolling blackouts like the ones we’ve seen this month. Sign up and start earning now!
Here’s a bit more about how it works:
Happy earning from home!