Ask Renewable Rayna: How To Be Energy Efficient While Working From Home

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As our life patterns shift in response to COVID-19, and social distancing is becoming a new norm, our energy profiles are shifting.

As commercial buildings, factories and other large energy consumers cease or slow operations, the overall demand for electricity has decreased. Commercial demand is expected to remain lower as we shelter in place or work from home, while residential demand increases.

For those of us still working from home for another week, you might be wondering how to continue to be energy efficient while consuming more daytime energy than before.

Renewable Rayna has a list of 5 ways you can be energy efficient while working from home.

Use A Laptop

Laptop computers consume as much as 80% less electricity than desktop computers and operate on between one-fifth and one-third the energy. The difference in energy-efficiency varies among models though. Higher-energy-consuming laptops may approach lower-energy-consuming desktops in similar use of energy, but laptops use far less power almost always. For one simple reason, laptop computers are often more energy-efficient than desktops: they can run off battery power for long periods. On the other hand desktops are always plugged in.

Use Power Saving Settings when plugged in. As with monitors, most computers and computer equipment are designed to use as little energy as possible. Still, you might need to set “sleep mode” or other power-saving features depending on how you use your equipment. The default of some machines is to go into sleep mode after 20 minutes of non-use but you can change those settings according to your preferences and needs.

A screen saver isn’t the same as an energy saver, and a screen saver can sometimes actually use more energy on its own. Also, if you have screen savers on, your sleep settings might not work, so make sure you configure your specific equipment properly to maximize energy savings for your home office.

And remember, don’t leave your computer on the entire day. Only turn on your computer, monitor, printer and fax when you need it.

Unplug & Turn Off Your Devices

While working from your laptop, when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use, unplug the battery chargers. If plugged in, once switched off, many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power. These vampire loads occur in most electric appliances, such as monitors, printers, scanners, speakers, etc.

You should consider plugging your laptop as well as any other devices you may need too into a power strip. This simply means that all you need to do is flip a switch on your strip at the end of the day, rather than turning everything off individually.

Remembering to turn things off this way is much easier so you are not consuming excess electricity.

Keep your work space comfortable

Stay Cool

If you are hot, running to open the window might seem natural but doing so can actually cause an adverse effect. If the outside temperature is too warm to your liking, opening the windows allows the warm air in that you obviously don’t want.

Encourage others to quickly open and close outdoor doors so that the cooler indoor air stays indoors and the warmer outside air stays outdoors. Opening windows during the evening may be a great idea, as evening air can often be 10-20 degrees cooler, helping the morning temperatures to start cooler and, of course, saving you some cash on the electric bill.

Another way to stay cool while saving money is to use a ceiling fan. Were you aware that a ceiling fan could allow you to raise the thermostat setting by around 4 ° F without affecting your comfort? Fans work by creating a wind-chill effect so you feel cooler on your skin. Raising the temperature and using a fan can help you run your air conditioner using less energy; you might even be able to avoid using your air conditioner altogether.

Don’t worry if there’s no ceiling fan in your home office. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of personal fans available so if your office is regularly too warm to your liking, it can be a great decision to invest in one.

Warm up with a Space Heater

Staying warm has proven to be a tad simpler than cooling down when warm. Simply adding a layer or fixing yourself a hot cup of coffee is one way to stay warm, but you can also save energy in your home office while warming up.

Conserve energy by trading your HVAC system for a space heater which is energy efficient. If you’re the only one home in the daytime, there’s no reason to waste energy heating the entire house up. To stay comfortable inside your office, use a small space heater instead.

Make Your Lighting Work For You

When designing or modifying a home office for energy-efficient lighting, it’s important to consider ways to ensure that you get the quality of the lighting you’re looking for as well as the expected savings off your residential electric bill.

To you, the prescription for cabin fever may be your window, but your window is also a great tool to save money on lighting your home office. Whenever possible, use natural light, but when you can not, consider switching to alternative lighting such as LED bulbs if you are not using them at present.

Today, getting a hold of energy-efficient LED light bulbs, which use much less electricity than their traditional counterparts, is far easier. Energy-efficient bulbs consume as much as 80% less energy than other bulbs, and often last longer.

In addition to switching to a different kind of lighting, you can also consider using task lighting rather than ambient lighting. In other words, if you do not need a lot of extra light use a lamp instead of your overhead light.

Consider Solar Power

Working from home becoming your new normal? Consider installing solar panels to soak up all the kWh you’re consuming while you’re at home all day.

Since 2008, hundreds and thousands of solar panels have popped up across the country due to declining prices, which continue to drop every year. More and more homeowners and businesses are exploring the feasibility and financial return of installing solar panels.

To determine your home’s average energy consumption, you will need to look at your energy bills for the past year. You can calculate the number of panels you need by multiplying your household hourly energy requirement by peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel’s wattage. If you work with a reliable solar provider, they will handle all these calculations for you. You can contact your energy provider to receive copies of your bills.

You can find a complete guide to solar power for your home or business here.