6 Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Home Office

By Vernon Trollinger, February 26, 2015, Energy Efficiency, Save Money, Small Biz

6 Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Home OfficeMany folks are more aware of their home energy usage, especially when it comes to maintaining home offices. Save money by making your home work space more energy efficient – especially in a place you’ll be using every day with high-usage products.

The problem comes from not knowing where to begin reducing your energy costs. More often than not, the real energy hog isn’t one piece of equipment – rather, it’s the whole collection of machines. If it’s not one machine, then where do you start?

You’re in luck! We’ve already done the research and found these six tips for creating an energy-efficient office.

1) Improve Your Lighting

Eileen Coale is an an award-winning natural health copywriter based in Annapolis, MD. Her office is fairly sparse; just a laptop, printer, FAX machine, an internet modem, and lights. When asked about what uses the most energy in her home office, she answered, “I like my office to be bright so I have about three or four light fixtures. I never thought about it before, but I guess they use the most energy because they all have incandescent bulbs.”

6 Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Home Office

LED bulb image courtesy of Energy.gov

Most of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is wasted heat. LED bulbs use 75% less energy to make the same amount of light. One LED bulb can put out the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb while only using 13 watts. They also last for years and their prices have come way down.

Not all LED light bulbs are the same. You want the right brightness and color for your office so you enjoy the best illumination and comfort for seeing. LED bulbs are calibrated to color temperature (in degrees Kelvin) and brightness (lumens). To simplify the process of comparing different kinds of lighting, all bulbs come with a Lighting Fact Label describing the brightness, energy cost, lifespan, appearance (color temperature), and energy used (wattage).

2) Turn Off the Peripherals

Each piece of office equipment might not use much electricity on its own, but when they are all turned on waiting for work, this standby energy-load can add up fast. Machines like printers that hibernate until they receive a “wake on job” command still use power listening for that command. While this hardware strategy might make sense for an office full of users, it doesn’t make sense for a single user at home. The solution is simple: if you’re not using your peripherals, leave them off.

6 Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Home Office

Fax Machines image courtesy of Morguefile.com

3) Recycle Your Old Tech

Your old fax machines use a lot of energy. They are usually ON all the time waiting to transmit or receive a transmission. Because of outdated laws, government agencies tied to antiquated regulations still use FAX machines, as do a host of hospitals, law offices, and businesses wary of technological change. By switching to a free online fax service, you can create documents on your computer, tablet, or even smart phone, and then upload them to a web-based interface. Dump your old fax machine at the recycling center.

Recycle your old laser printer. Black and white laser printers from the 1990s used more power while printing and during standby than newer color printers that print at twice the resolution and feature faster data transmission.

4) Avoid Printing Documents Whenever Possible

Switch your workflow to electronic media. Read and review documents in layout view or as a PDF file. Not only will you save energy, you’ll conserve paper and ink/toner. Click here to find how much you’re spending in energy when you turn your printer ON.

If the long days in front of the computer screen wreaks havoc on your eyes, invest in a really good pair of computer glasses. Even if you don’t need a prescription for eye glasses, computer glasses are engineered to reduce glare and correct light wavelength and reduce eye strain.

6 Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Home Office

Network Lights image courtesy of Morguefile.com

5) Control Your Connection Costs

If you’ve got a computer network (LAN) setup or internet connection, it’s probably on all the time — even when no one is using it. That’s like paying two people to sit in an empty room and ask each other, “Are you there?” and shake hands every three seconds (even in the dead of night).

Instead, connect your network switch and modem to simple outlet timers. Your network will automatically get turned off when not in use, save more energy, and help cut your annual costs. With most home network initialization times now under a minute, you can save money and be web-surfing ready every morning

Still need access ‘round the clock to access important documents when you’re not at home? Move some of that important work to free cloud-based storage, such as Google, DropBox, Amazon, or others.

6) What about Sleep Mode?

Yes, sleep mode does save energy, especially when you have an office full of workstations. But if it’s just you, why leave your computer on all night in sleep mode? Sure, it uses very little energy in sleep mode, but it’s still using energy and over time, adding to the overall cost.

When should you use sleep mode? Consider these rules to save energy for all computers with sleep mode:

  • Turn off the monitor if you leave your computer for more than 20 minutes.
  • Turn off the monitor and activate the hibernate or deep sleep mode if you are going leave your computer for more than 1 hour.
  • Turn off both the monitor and computer at the end of the day.

In general, keep computers, printers, routers, switches, modems, and drives away from heating vents in the winter. All electronic devices must work to dissipate a certain amount of waste heat from their circuit boards. Subjecting them to extra heat will slow down performance, use more power, and shorten their lifespan, and this will increase your home office energy costs.

Do you have any tips for improving the energy efficiency of your home office? Share with us in the comments!

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About 

A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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