How to cut your home office energy costs18th March 2014
Working from home comes with a plethora of benefits – you cut out the commute, can work on your own device instead of a potentially slow, out-of-date computer and don't have to put up with the office clown.
As you'll probably spend a sizeable chunk of the day in your home office, it's important to make sure it's as energy-efficient as possible. You don't want to have to put the money you're saving on a train fare towards paying extra on your bills!
Whether you're a freelancer or contractor, or work from home just one day a week, here are some tips to make sure you're not squandering more money than you need to.
Your computer or laptop will probably be the main device you use to carry out your daily tasks.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that having a screensaver will help save energy while you're not using your computer – in fact, it's the opposite. According to uswitch, this mode consumes almost as much energy as using your monitor normally. Utilising the sleep or hibernate mode is beneficial to help conserve power when you're not using the machine.
Leaving a computer on standby overnight can account for as much as ten per cent of your energy bill, so don't fall into the trap of doing this when you finish your day's work.
If a computer and monitor are left on 24 hours a day, this could add as much as £45 to your bill every year. However, employing energy-saving tips, such as switching them off when you're not using them, could lower this to under £10 annually.
For when you need to buy a new model, consider purchasing a laptop instead of a desktop, as they use less energy.
Think about acquiring a product such as the 6 gang master slave extension lead to help you be more energy-efficient with your computer usage. All you need to do is plug the main device – such as the PC power cord – into the master socket, and linked appliances – like your printer, the monitor or the speakers – into the so-called slave inputs. When the PC powers down, the others will do the same. Similarly, when the PC is switched back on, these additional items will come to life again.
Furthermore, there is an unmanaged socket for devices you do not want to control in this way, such as a Wi-Fi router.
Portable device usage
Over the last few years, the way we work has changed on an unprecedented level. It might be that you carry out the majority of your day-to-day duties on a laptop, tablet or smartphone now. Because of this, some people's home office is actually not a fixed location anymore – it could be on the train or in a number of different coffee shops. However, just because your products are not always plugged into the socket does not mean you should be nonchalant about energy efficiency.
In addition, a day of client meetings out and about could mean you require your smartphone battery to last all day. Getting into good habits with how you use it at home could prove invaluable when on the road, saving you from the frustration of being uncontactable due to a device running out out of juice.
With all such products, consider turning down the screen brightness. Often it's automatically set at a level that is brighter than you really need it to be. Turn off any unnecessary notifications from apps you no longer use and consider putting your phone on aeroplane mode when you're on the tube, for example. This is because your device will use up battery trying to find signal, so if you know the connection is non-existent or so poor it's not worth having, save your handset the effort.
If you're still struggling to make your smartphone last while you're out of the house, consider a product such as the ChargeGenie Universal microUSB rechargeable charger. It can give you as much as 75 per cent more battery life, while enabling you to use your device as normal to carry out your tasks.
General energy tips
For when you are in your home office, think about the lighting situation. Do you really need to turn the lights on when you could open the curtains and enjoy natural rays from the sun? While we're not saying work in the dark, being a bit more disciplined as to when you switch them on could reap dividends when the bill comes through your letterbox.
While we're currently enjoying lighter mornings and evenings, make sure you have the most efficient bulbs installed in your house for when winter brings darker skies. While many are familiar with compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED ones are actually better in the long-run as they could knock a whopping 85 per cent off your payments.
If you work from home, you'll no doubt be popping to the kitchen to make a drink throughout the nine-to-five, as well as using other rooms in the house. Don't finish the working day with lights on in pretty much every room as you've forgotten to turn them off once you've made your cup of tea and taken a few biscuits as a mid-morning snack.