Photo credit: dierken via Flickr CC
by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California
Think lists of how to save energy is so 2007? Well, with more and more people working from home, we think it's time to dust off a few trusty tricks for curbing electricity consumption without curbing productivity. Working from home has been shown to have its environmental benefits, from reducing road congestion to cutting down on office building energy consumption -- but there's a lot you can do to make it even more green and reduce your energy bill. Here are eight easy places to start.
1. Open The Curtains
There's no need for wasting energy on desk lamps or overhead lights if you're getting enough natural light. Choose the brightest room in the apartment or house in which to work, and keep the curtains open to let the light pour in. It can brighten both the room and possibly your productivity since natural light is known to boost one's mood.
Productivity is highest when you're not distracted, and that goes for blinking lights, ringing phones, and blaring television sets. When working from home, unplug everything you're not using right then for work, including printers, gadget chargers, extra computers or monitors and so on. You'll cut down on vampire energy wasted on wall warts, energy sapped by electronics on standby, or electricity sucked up by electronics you aren't really focused on.
3. Work From Cafes
Another way to save money on electricity and avoid getting cabin fever is to go work from a cafe or other location. Spending $5 on coffee and a bagel can get you a good two, maybe even three hours of plugging in from a pleasant location where you can take a mental break by people watching for five minutes every so often. You might not save a lot of money in the long run, but you'll get food, drinks and atmosphere instead of just an electricity bill.
4. Work Smarter Hours, Not Longer Hours
Perhaps the most direct way to save electricity while working from home is to cut down on the number of hours you're on the computer. By honing your work day and cutting down on time spent wasted on social media sites or surfing the web because you're procrastinating, you can potentially free yourself from the computer earlier in the day. If you're able to get your work completed in six hours instead of eight, you can hop off the computer and head outside, saving the amount of energy you would have gobbled up in that last hour or two.
5. Plug Into Smart Devices
Okay, say you don't want to unplug everything you're not using, and you're not likely to cut back your working hours. The next best solution is to use a device to manage the flow of electricity to electronics, and cut the supply when not needed. TrickleStar, for example, has products that regulate energy going to particular devices so that you can use your computer but cut standby power going to your printer. You can use this for your work equipment as well as devices elsewhere in your home. You can also try out a power monitor to find out which devices are costing you the most and figure out usage patterns that can help you save.
6. Use Energy Efficient Equipment
Are you using monitors that suck up electricity like nobody's business? Or maybe you're using a browser on your laptop that's known to suck up the electricity? You might want to make a trade-in on your gear or software. If you're looking for new equipment with lower energy consumption, check out buy-back companies that sell used and refurbished equipment. It's both cheaper and greener.
7. Set Up Your Computer for Energy Savings
Your computer has a ton of built-in settings for saving energy. By checking your settings and making a few tweaks you can save just a bit more on your electricity bill. If you set things up right, you might even be able to unplug your laptop forever!
8. Minimize Your Gadgets
Without sacrificing ergonomics, you can minimize how many electronics you're using, from extra monitors to wireless keyboards. Think about what you absolutely need for your set-up, and give away or store those electronic devices you don't really need to have plugged in. Gadget minimalists can save a ton of electricity without trying hard.
Bonus Tip: Sign Up for Renewable Energy
Okay so this won't necessarily save you any electricity, but it will help cut your carbon footprint. Sign up for renewable energy from your utility to ensure that energy entering your home is from renewable sources as much as possible. This way what electricity you do use has the lowest environmental impact.
Check out TreeHugger for 30+ fresh, green stories every day!