The concept of working from home and telecommuting has not yet become as widespread as it could, but having people working from home, either permanently, or on some days of the week, has the potential to save both money and environmental impact. A worker who is at home has more time to work during the day, is less stressed by travelling or commuting, and does not use fossil fuels or create carbon dioxide emissions getting to work.
Is Your Home Office Energy Efficient?
If you have taken the plunge to work at home or are about to, it will pay to spend a little time thinking about the equipment you need and how you use it. By careful organisation and buying a few key pieces of equipment, and bearing in mind the energy efficiency of new equipment that you buy, you can reduce the extra power that you will use when you are working at home all day.
Lighting and the Home Office
A key factor in being able to work comfortably, no matter what you do, is to get the lighting right. If you don’t use a computer but work on documents or projects you need to get as much light as possible and it makes sense to position your work space near to a large window if possible. Having a spotlight or reading light on for many hours of the day will be expensive. If you have to work after dark, that’s fair enough, but using low energy bulbs and lighting is a must.
If you work predominantly on a computer, it is important to be able to see documents on your desk but the light must not be too bright to conflict with the computer screen. Make sure that your desk is positioned so that sunlight does not fall on the monitor, or shine into your eyes. If possible, having a large window is good for heating on sunny but cold days, but you will also need a heat reflecting blind to sunny and hot days and for times of the day when the sun intrudes.
Low Energy Equipment
Appliances and equipment now all have energy ratings and you need to shop around for the equipment that uses the least energy. Then, you need to think carefully about usage and remember that computer equipment can drain a lot of electricity when in standby mode, or when adapters are simply just plugged in. You can waste a lot of energy by leaving computer equipment on all night and on days when you are not in your office.
Contrary to some people’s belief, leaving computers on does not extend their life. This used to be true for large mainframe computers, but the opposite is the case for modern PCs, which can overheat and burn out the motherboard if they are on all the time.
Turning Equipment Off – Get Automated
It is difficult to remember to keep switching things off when you might have a dozen different electrical items in your office – a couple of lights, a computer, a printer, a monitor, an internet box, a phone, a fax… the list goes on. It pays to invest in a good power surge adapter system and plug it into one wall socket so that all the equipment can be turned off with just one switch. It is now possible to by intelligent sockets with remote controls so that inaccessible sockets can be turned off remotely. Making shut down as easy as possible will mean that you are more likely to do it.
The Way You Work
If you work at home you have flexibility and there will be times you need to work late but, as mentioned above, making good use of natural light when its available will reduce bills. If you can use a laptop rather than a tower computer, this can also save money as laptops use less energy per hour. It is possible to get laptops with very large screens now but if you prefer, you can set up a work station for your laptop and plug it into a cordless full size keyboard, cordless mouse and full size flat screen monitor. When you want to work on the go, just unplug the laptop – it still takes up far less space compared to a tower, and is more convenient. Working this way is ideal if you work at home some days but need to be in the office on others.