Just by looking at your home office, you may not see where energy is wasted. After all, you spend the better part of your working hours in that room, concentrating on running a business while giving little thought to how energy is used. Energy waste can cost you money, impacting your profits and ultimately your bottom line. Let’s take a look at seven tips on how you can reduce home office energy consumption.
1. Computers and peripherals — You own a desktop computer, a printer, a scanner and have a phone system. Some freelancers also bring in other equipment including a server, a photo copier or a fax machine. Each unit can tax your energy, consuming electricity even when operating in an inactive mode. When you shop for new equipment, make sure that its EnergyStar rating is a good one. Consider a more efficient laptop to replace that energy hog desk top too.
2. Power strips — Plug it in and forget it, right? That’s the problem here — every piece of equipment uses energy even when you are not using it. You can conserve energy by installing a power strip and plugging everything into it. When you are done working for the day, turn the strip off to conserve energy. Power strips do double duty as surge protectors too.
3. Lighting choices — Overhead and area lighting can consume much energy. Instead of wasting lighting on what doesn’t need to be illuminated, opt for task lighting. A floor lamp or desk light may be all that you need most days. For larger offices, a corner lamp can help dispel darkness.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs — Speaking of lighting, your choice of light bulb can save you money too. Old incandescent bulbs are cheap, but they do not last long and they consume much energy. Choose compact fluorescent lights to squeeze out more light while using less energy. You can save $10 to $15 per year for each bulb according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Buy your bulbs in bulk and save even more money.
5. Natural light — Perhaps the problem with your office is a lack of natural light. Or, not making use of the light you have on hand. Heavy drapes provide much privacy, but should be tied back during the day to bring in more light. If privacy is not a concern, then use sheer curtains or blinds. Natural lighting may be all that you need during the heart of your business day, saving you money.
6. Climate control — Heating and cooling is important to your personal comfort as well as for keeping your valuable equipment from overheating. Consider what your needs are and evaluate the system that supplies energy to your home. If your office does not have adequate climate control, a portable heater or air conditioner may offer the most sensible and cost effective solution. Today’s portable units feature self-evaporating systems, with no concern on where to dump water.
7. Automatic thermostat — Keep your climate control system under your personal control by replacing the manual thermostat with an electronic one. An electronic unit can help you reduce your energy consumption, by adjusting your home’s temperature as automatically. Set it to warm up your home on winter days just before you rise and to cool down as you head off to bed. Try working in 65 degree heat instead of 68 degrees, donning a sweater to keep you warm.
Your energy provider may offer you a home energy audit at no charge. Your entire home will get evaluated, not just your office, helping you to find other areas where significant energy savings may be possible.
Elliot Shah is a personal finance expert. He loves sharing his best tips for saving money on finance blogs. Learn more about the money saving company EnergyHelpLine.