With the cost of living continuing to rise and the colder months on the way, many of us will be worrying about our energy bills over winter and into next year. Those of us who continue to work from home will have the added concern of knowing that we need to ensure we have an efficient and comfortable space to work from during the day, as well as a snug and relaxed place to enjoy in our free time, without sending already high bills even higher.
So, what can we do if we cannot, or do not want, to return to an office to work. ILSPA have compiled our top tips for how to save energy whilst working from home.
1. Location, Location, Location
This may be an obvious one, so we thought we would get it in the list and out of the way first. Don’t waste your energy heating or lighting areas of your home where you do not work during the day. Pick an already light spot, preferably with a door you can close to keep any draught out and settle in there. Focus on keeping that one area comfortable and do not worry about the rest of the house until after work, when you and/or others are actually using it.
2. Need to warm up?
Sitting at a desk and not moving around much can cause you to get chilly. If you don’t want to rely on the heating, then things like jumpers and hot water bottles are the go-to items. But what else can we use to keep warm? Electric filament, fan or oil heaters can be expensive to run, but did you know an energy efficient electric blanket can cost as little as 1p an hour? If you don’t fancy sitting with a blanket you can also get a heated mat to position under a rug, which is a fantastic way to heat a smaller space for a fraction of the cost.
As a nation of tea drinkers our kettles get a lot of use. A great way to save on energy is to save your extra water in a well-insulated flask after boiling your kettle. This can then be used to make future beverages without having to boil the kettle again. I did an experiment at home with my kettle and smart meter. I worked out that it costs me 4p to boil my kettle and that gives me about 4 large cups. So, if I boil my kettle once in the morning and save the remaining 3 cups for throughout the day, that is saving me 12p a day. That is a saving of £43.80 a year simply by doing that one thing. Same amount of tea drunk, one quarter of the energy used.
Batch cooking is another fantastic saver of energy. If you prefer to have a warm lunch, why not cook batches of food and then warm it up rather than cooking from scratch each time. Microwaves, slow-cookers and hobs (when used for a short time) all use less energy than ovens.
4. Let there be light
We have mentioned the importance of choosing your work location wisely. Make sure it is somewhere already light throughout the day if possible. When it starts to get dark in the evenings and you do need to use lights, be careful about which ones you use. Certain lamps and certain lightbulbs use more energy than others. Make sure you are using energy efficient and lower watt bulbs. Shy away from lamps and lights that use multiple bulbs at the same time, especially if they do not use the modern energy efficient ones. Battery powered, or solar powered lamps are also a great addition to add a bit more glow.
5. Office Technology
Working from home means technology, and not just computers but potentially printers, scanners, phone chargers, monitors, modems, routers and so on. Technology relies on using power. For this particular aspect of remote working, it may feel inevitable that you are going to see a rise in cost, because it seems impossible to save energy when you have to work as normal. However, there are some tricks you can call on to help as much as possible.
Smart power strips ensure that devices aren't drawing power when they are not in use, while giving you the option to keep other devices always on. For example, your router may need to actively always be on and working but your printer may just be in standby. A smart power strip makes sure your printer isn’t drawing power until you actually send it some work to do.
A simpler way of doing this may be to just make sure any devices you are not using are turned off. However, this can create its own problems with interrupting the flow of your work or even affecting the networking of the devices. You would need to consider which option is best for you. It may be that a smart power strip is a useful investment.
The other thing to consider is whether you have any smaller devices that could be powered by alternatives like solar energy. Most residential homes are obviously not going to have access to a large solar set up, but smaller things like solar phone chargers or reading lamps could be useful.
Article written by Megan James, ILSPA