Three years on from the start of the pandemic and it’s easy to see why millions of Australians still choose to regularly work from home, even sans restrictions.
There are clear financial and time-saving benefits to working remotely. Not only are you avoiding that daily rush hour commute, there are big savings to be had on things like fuel, food and coffee (not to mention a better work-life balance).
But staying at home for longer periods of time means you are consuming more power – and any potential savings you might make could be quickly absorbed by your quarterly electricity bill if you aren’t careful.
Luckily there are simple changes you can make to be more energy efficient. Here’s how to reduce your energy consumption and save power (and money) while working from home.
Switch off when you’re switched off
One of the biggest hidden sources of energy costs is unused power, with standby electricity accounting for up to 10 per cent of the average Australian power bill.
Yes, appliances use power even if they’re switched off.
The most straightforward way you can save power at home is to switch off household appliances at the wall when they are not in use. The same goes for your office devices – and computers, printers and monitors are some of the most power-hungry appliances in the house.
Taking the time to switch off your home office devices at the wall at the end of the day will not only reduce your energy consumption, but also extend the life of your devices as well.
The power of one
If you find you often forget to turn off your devices at the wall, consider getting one powerboard to plug all your devices into. That way, you only have to turn off one switch when the workday is over.
Smart powerboards are even better – you can control all your devices from an app on your phone to turn on or off at specific times, making saving power at home even easier.
Go into hibernation
Many appliances have an energy-saving feature called “sleep mode” or “hibernation”, which means they will automatically enter low power or sleep mode after a period of inactivity. Taking advantage of these features can help you consume less energy in the long run.
Let there be (natural) light
With lighting making up a significant portion of the average household electricity budget, it makes sense to get as much natural sunlight in your office space as you can.
Besides the obvious power-saving benefits, a naturally lit space can also have a positive impact on your energy levels and ability to concentrate. (Got brain fog? Just look out the window and soak up the sun for a mental boost.)
Another way to save power is to replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs such as LEDs, which emit less heat and use around 80 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Plus, they’ll last around ten times longer, so you’re saving money, time and energy. A true lightbulb moment!
Heat smarter, not harder
Working from home means the costs of heating and cooling your office space – one of the largest sources of energy consumption – are now yours to bear. While setting the right temperature for productivity at home is important, it can seriously bump up your power bill if it means running your air conditioner or heater all day.
Before switching on your AC or heating system, make sure to close your windows, curtains and doors – and do your best to only heat or cool the room you are using.
You can also set your thermostat to a target temperature. In Australia, that’s between 18°C and 20° degrees in winter, and between 25°C and 27°C degrees in summer. Remember, the harder your air conditioner or heater has to work, the more power it will use.
Even better (and cheaper) are using ceiling or pedestal fans instead – or opt for a desktop USB fan which, while gimmicky, are a surprisingly effective way to stay cool when working.
Get a thermos – stat
For many workers, a good ol’ cup of joe is essential to being productive at home. In an office environment, it’s easy to make regular trips to the kitchen to boil the kettle, or frequently turn on the coffee machine. But now that you’re working from home, make less use of a boiling kettle and instead use a thermos or thermos flask to keep your morning brew warmer (or iced coffee colder) for longer.
If you are using a kettle, save energy (and time!) by only filling and boiling as much water as you actually need.
A big benefit of working from home is being able to tackle those household tasks during work breaks. Having regular time away from your screen is not only important for your mental health, but can also have a positive impact on your power bill – so why not use this time to carry out household chores like cooking or laundry?
The best time to run energy-guzzling appliances like your dishwasher or washing machine is during the day (even more so if you have solar panels), so take advantage of working from home to get it done.
On sunny days, ditch the dryer and hang out your washing in the fresh air.
You could even get a head start on dinner by using your slow cooker during the day. It’s a great way to not only conserve energy on your power bill, but your own time and energy when the workday is over.
For people who work from home, investing in solar panels is ideal because you would be maximising your energy use during the day.
Energy-absorbing appliances like dishwashers and washing machines can be set at optimal times when the sun is shining, while work laptops, phone chargers and other devices can also be powered up during this time.
You can even adjust the heating and cooling of your home at target times when solar panels can help – without paying for additional electricity.
As the daylight hours are the optimal time to use electricity, those who work from home would reap the most benefits of a solar power system, meaning big savings on your electricity bill.
Ultimately, working from home might be the perfect fit for your work-life balance – just be sure to monitor your energy consumption so it doesn’t end up costing you in the long-run.