The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the world was unlike anything we have ever seen before, and we were forced to adapt in every way we possibly could. Millions of people lost their jobs and reliable incomes, we lost family members and friends, and the little work we had left to do had to be done completely differently. Everything was done in sweatpants and slippers, even Pixar movies. It took us months to adapt to our “new normal,” and every day we hoped for positive updates on the global situation.
For those that were lucky enough to keep their jobs and had the ability to work from home, there was a completely new atmosphere and agenda to the workday. There were Zoom meetings all day long, movies on in the background, all the lights on in the home, and when summer came around, constant air conditioning to stay comfortable amongst the chaos. Everything that was happening was creating an increased usage of energy and electricity, making our bills more expensive in a time we could not afford any extra cost.
As the world has slowly moved in a positive direction, many of us have been able to return to our offices and resume life in a pretty similar way. However, some companies found that working from home was saving their employees a commute, giving them more time with their families, and people were more comfortable, and despite all those changes, productivity had not dropped. So, even with people returning to their offices, many people chose to continue their at-home work so they could keep some of those extra benefits, and some are still taking advantage of that possibility. That extra time at home means using more electricity, so we are going to dive into some ways that you can keep your electricity bills low without sacrificing your comfort and capabilities in your home office.
Let the Light Shine In
Having a good light while you are working is something we typically do not think about too much—we flip on the lights, and we do not waste any more time with it. However, instead of turning on the lights in the morning, try opening your blinds if you are in a room with a window! Natural light is often brighter and more spread out than the lightbulbs in our light fixtures above our heads, and because of how diffused the light is, you will not have to worry about any harsh shadows on your work. It also helps your body produce Vitamin D, putting you in a better mood! Opening the blinds can also help regulate the temperature in your home. This way, we save money by not using the lights until it is darker outside and by keeping our thermostat at a more optimal temperature setting for our wallets. If the weather is nice, maybe you could even open the window to let some air in as well, allowing yourself to get some fresh air while you are hard at work.
In the summertime, however, this can get warm, so closing blinds or curtains during the heat of the day and using lights instead is more ideal for your comfort level and thermostat regulation. However, you should consider switching your lightbulbs from incandescent to LED bulbs. LED bulbs are much more efficient (by about 75%!) and produce about 90% less heat. That extra heat can make your workspace warmer and less comfortable, and it can kick on your air conditioning when you may not necessarily need it. LED bulbs also have a much longer lifetime than incandescent bulbs, lasting about 50,000 hours instead of 2,000. It is also more efficient to have one lamp for your workspace instead of a light for the entire room, and it gives you more direct light.
Lastly, be sure that you turn the lights off when you leave the room. It can be tough to remember, but that small extra step will save you money on your electricity bill each month, and you will be glad you were mindful.
Streamline the Energy
Working from home means new technology and more devices invading your personal space, and every new device means at least one new cord to connect to your outlets. Every new device means more power sucked from the energy grid and onto your power bill. With all of these new cords and devices, be sure you are putting them in the best places possible in your home office. If you plug your devices into a power strip, or even better, a smart power strip, you can be more efficient with your energy in multiple ways.
All power strips have a switch on them that will shut off the power circulation into the devices that are plugged into it. So, at the end of your workday, you can turn all of your devices off and then switch the power strip off as well, because even if you have turned your devices off, if they are still plugged in, they will continue to use energy unless the flow is stopped. This energy usage is called phantom or vampire energy, and it usually consumes the equivalent of the energy needed to power 11 million homes. It is also causing about 44 billion unnecessary pounds of carbon emissions released into the air every single year, and it costs American homeowners about $200 of energy costs each year. In fact, if you do not flip the switch off when you are finished working, the power strip will not actually do you any good, and it may end up creating more of an issue because it has more outlets, therefore more devices connected, and therefore more vampire energy. So, if you are going to use a power strip, make sure you do not forget to take that extra step.
Smart power strips are a relatively new introduction, but they can make it even easier for you to save money and cut power flow to devices that no longer need it. Smart power strips have the ability to detect when a device has gone to sleep or been turned off, and it will cut power during those times to save you even more energy and money. These are especially helpful in places where you have devices like televisions, DVRs, desktop computers and monitors, and even chargers. They cost a bit more upfront, usually between $20-$40, but they can help to save you that extra $200 from vampire energy.
If you are working on a laptop, their batteries tend to do better on a cycle, so only keep it plugged in (including the charger to the wall or power strip) when it needs to charge. Keeping it plugged in while it is fully charged can lessen its lifetime while using unnecessary extra power. You can also change your settings so that it operates on low power mode, giving you more working time, less battery usage, and no change in your working abilities. Using these power management tools can save you up to $50 a year on your energy bills!
Finally, be sure to place your home office away from a thermostat. If you have devices plugged in near one, it will most likely detect the heat that every device naturally creates and will keep your air conditioning on for longer than you need it, and air conditioning can be one of the more expensive sides of your electricity bill. Keeping your devices and their power sources away from the thermostat will prevent you from needing to constantly adjust your settings and from paying more than you need to.
Office equipment is a hassle to purchase, not to mention expensive. However, having appliances and devices that are Energy Star-labeled can use as much as 75% less energy than other devices, which can mean you save a large chunk of money on your electricity bills. Computers that have the Energy Star label use 30%-60% less energy than other computers, depending on the usage, and laptops are even more efficient. The Environmental Protection Agency chooses which products earn the label based on six different guidelines, including significant energy savings nationwide, increased energy efficiency while still being able to perform a consumer’s needs at the same rate and ability as other devices, and energy consumption and performance that can be measured and verified with testing. They also revise specifications and update them regularly based on a few other guidelines.
So, if your products are Energy Star, you are sure to be using less power for the same abilities and purposes, because they are tested for that exact thing and cannot receive the label without real, significant results. Even if you have to pay a little bit more upfront for those products, they will save you money in the long run on your electricity bills, and you will be helping to reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants! That sounds like a win-win situation.
Consider a New Energy System
There are ways to reduce your energy bills without changing much about your current lifestyle and going solar is one of them! Having a solar system installed in your home to provide your energy in a clean, renewable way is one of the most cost-efficient ways to reduce your energy bills over time. Like many other energy-efficient changes that you can make, solar panels are a large investment that may take some time before you begin to see your return. However, over a 25-year lifetime of solar panels, your system can save you between ten and thirty thousand dollars on your energy bills, depending on where you live, plus federal tax credits and potential referral savings, not to mention the amazing ways it can help the environment. There are several benefits to going solar, and you can read about some of the main ones here!
Blue Raven Solar is committed to giving every customer the best experience possible from the moment they come in contact with our solar products and services to the moment their system is perfectly energized, and their electricity is flowing smoothly. We only use the best and most efficient products, and we strive to have customer support around the clock so that all of your questions and concerns can be handled and resolved. We believe in the change that solar energy has the ability to make in the world and in the savings of homeowners all over the country. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the energy space and it continues to change homeowners’ lives by giving them autonomy and independence over their energy and more money in their wallets. Clean energy is a necessary implementation if we want to truly help reduce air pollution so that the earth can be a cleaner and healthier place.