Like many people around the world, I’m working from home in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s stressful in a lot of ways – I have two kids to parent while also trying to do my job – but I’ve focused on the positives, like spending more time with my kids and finally getting caught up on laundry.
But one drawback of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic is that you’ll inevitably use more energy. Yes, some of that will be offset by the gasoline you’re not using on your commute, but that’s not the case for all of your energy usage.
So whether you’re keeping a closer eye on your wallet during this uncertain time or looking to cut back environmental reasons, here are some tips you can use while working from home to help you curb your energy usage.
8 Energy-Saving Tips You Can Use While Working From Home
Being home all day doesn’t have to mean a sky-high energy bill. By putting these suggestions to use, you can limit how much energy you use each month. The key is to do as many of these as possible to really maximize your savings.
1. Make the Most of Natural Light
You could be wasting a lot of energy if you leave lights on all day while working from home. Make the most of the natural light outside by opening the curtains. If possible, set your workspace up next to a window rather than the corner of a room or in a dark basement.
Working near a window not only helps you save energy on light and lamps, but it can also boost your mood. When I go into work at the office, I hardly see sunlight all day, so when I work from home, I try to make the most of being close to a window.
2. Close the Drapes in the Summer
Using natural light is a great way to save energy, but when it gets hot outside, your air conditioning might be a bigger energy-suck than your light fixtures. Closing the drapes on hot days can help lower the temperature in your home so the A/C doesn’t need to constantly run.
If you live in a hot climate, that might mean keeping your blinds closed, which can make your home feel dark and depressing. In that case, make a point to close your blinds at least during the hottest part of the day. That way, you’ll conserve as much energy as possible without feeling like you’re stuck in a dungeon.
3. Check Your Light Bulbs
Do you know what kind of light bulbs you’re using? Switching from incandescent to fluorescent or LED light bulbs can save you money and help the environment at the same time.
EnergyStar.gov recommends using ENERGY STAR-certified light bulbs that use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than traditional light bulbs.
Energy-efficient light bulbs are certainly more pricy than traditional incandescent ones, but if you think about how much you’ll save over time by buying fewer light bulbs and paying less on your utility bills, you’ll see how it adds up.
4. Use a Power Strip
When you take a break while working from home, turn off your equipment and switch off the power strip when you leave the room. That’ll prevent your equipment from sucking up energy while not in use.
When you sign off for the day, turn off your computer completely and switch off the power strip. Even if you don’t do it during the day, this simple trick can save you a lot of wasted energy overnight.
5. Use Smart Plugs
Plugging devices straight into the wall is so 2018. Instead, invest in some smart plugs so you can control your devices from your smartphone using Wi-Fi connectivity. You can also program lamps or appliances to turn on or off at specific times in case you forget to do it yourself.
A four-pack of smart plugs costs about $30, but as with most energy-efficient upgrades, you’ll recoup the initial investment over time as you pay less for your energy bills.
6. Put Your Virtual Assistant to Work
A voice-controlled virtual assistant can help you manage your energy usage better, ultimately saving you money on your energy bill.
Whether you choose Amazon Echo, Google Home Mini, Apple HomePod or a different smart voice assistant, you can use them to turn off appliances and lamps when not in use, which means you have no excuse to leave energy-draining appliances running.
All you need to do is tell your assistant to turn off a certain device and it’ll do it for you. You can even program them to turn off several appliances with a single command!
Note: To make this work, you’ll either need the smart plugs I mentioned above or you’ll need smart home appliances.
7. Opt for Efficient Office Equipment
Older computers and other office equipment are not designed for energy efficiency, so if possible, furnish your office with newer equipment that runs on less energy.
You can also look at your computer’s recommended energy-saving tips. If you’re using a laptop, you can increase its battery life by closing unused programs and browsers and dimming the brightness to conserve energy. That way, you can go longer between chargings and give your electric usage a break. Your devices should have similar settings.
8. Unplug Unused Electronics
When I work from home, my tablet and monitors are on all day – but that’s it. I don’t leave the TV on if I’m not watching it, and I turn the coffee maker off as soon as my caffeine needs are met. The only lights on in the house are in my office.
Consider going a step further and unplugging electronics like the TV when you’re not using them. This is a good idea even if you don’t work from home.
Cat Hiles is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.