Is working from home really more energy efficient?

greenbizThere are some pretty conflicting opinions on this subject. On the one hand, working from home can reduce your carbon emissions through a lack of commuting. But, on the other hand, around 17% of the US workforce is now at home all day, every day, causing an increase in energy consumption.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. If you’re a contractor and you choose to work from home, you can make it a much greener option just by reassessing your working environment.

Contractors looking to become a bit more eco-friendly can follow these steps:

1) Use energy saving light bulbs
Everyone knows that energy saving light bulbs are preferable, but how many people actually use them? Around 20% of your electricity bill is thought to be made up from lighting, and using energy saving light bulbs can save both money and electricity.

2) Draw your curtains
Of course, the most energy efficient form of lighting is daylight. Don’t sit with the curtains drawn and a light on when the sun is up – get the curtains open and save as much electricity as possible.

3) Switch off electrical items
When not in use, of course. Some appliances and electrical items still use power when in standby mode, so you could be wasting energy just by not switching things off at the socket. Here are some examples:
- A phone charger uses 0.25 watts even when not plugged into anything.
- A computer monitor in standby can use 12 watts.
- A laser printer uses 6.4 watts when in standby mode, but only 6.1 watts when in use.
This shows just how important it is to invest in an eco-friendly printer!

Some contractors will require more electrical items than others. A writer, for example, may only need a laptop, whereas an IT contractor could need a computer and a laptop plus lots of programmes. Choosing products with a high energy rating can help to offset this as much as possible.

4) Create a home office
Everyone works differently, but setting up a home office could help contractors to save some energy throughout the year. When I work from home, I have a tendency to put the TV on for some background noise and I’m often constantly going back and forth between rooms just because I can’t get settled.

If you want to stop yourself from doing this, devote one room in your house to your freelance work. Only have the equipment that you need in there – no TV for entertainment, it’ll only end up wasting electricity. By sticking to just one room, you can ensure you’re only using what you need and not consuming more energy than required.

5) Set yourself working hours
Once you’re in your nice new home office, give yourself work hours. Whether they’re nine to five or not, it’ll make sure you use a consistent amount of energy each day. One of the biggest perks of being a freelance contractor is that you get to set your own working hours, so make sure they aren’t doing more harm than good.

Simply switching to working from home doesn’t always make you more eco-friendly, which is why contractors need to ensure that everything they do saves energy. How do you think your carbon footprint stands now that you work from home?

This article was written by Aurora Johnson on behalf of Nixon Williams, a freelance accountant specialist. You can find out more by visiting nixonwilliams.com now.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.