When you’re setting up your home office and working out your expenses, you can easily forget how running your business from home might increase your energy usage. Whether you’re just getting set up or you’ve been established for a while, it’s worth knowing how working from home can affect your energy bill.
How does running a business from home affect energy use?
Before you started your home business, you were probably out of the house from around 8am until 6pm, five days a week. That is a huge amount of time when you switch on lighting, boil the kettle, turn on the heater, wash your hands with hot water, charge your phone and use a computer elsewhere. Simply being at home more may lead to an increase in your energy use.
Setting up your business at home may also mean you need to buy appliances like a landline telephone, printer and scanner. Even if you only use them occasionally, having each of these items plugged in can incrementally contribute to your overall energy use.
You may want to track your energy usage for the first month you work from home so you can get a good sense of how things have changed. Once you’ve got that information, you can make sure you’re on the right energy plan for your needs.
Which appliances are the main culprits?
- Air conditioner
- Hot water systems
- Fax machine
How can I offset those energy usages?
Make sure you’ve turned on hibernate or sleep mode in your computer settings so that when you leave your desk, your computer automatically starts saving power. When you’ve finished work for the day, switch off your computer completely. Taking these two simple precautions could cut your computer’s energy use by over 60 per cent.
Off-peak hours offer discounted electricity rates during specific times when less electricity is used in your area. These hours generally occur at night and on weekends, but very residential areas may have daytime off-peak hours during the day, which can be really useful for a home business. Find out if you are eligible for off-peak rates and what their specified times are, then create a schedule that takes advantage of them.
In an average home, around 40 per cent of heat loss occurs through the windows; similarly, air leaking into your home can increase your heating and cooling bills by 25 per cent. With these two statistics alone, you can see why it makes sense to insulate your windows with heat-shrink film in winter and seal gaps in doors and windows – particularly if you’re spending your working hours at home. In addition, only use the heating and cooling when it’s really necessary – use fans first in summer, and rug up with extra clothes before you turn on the heater.
Simply being at home means you use extra water – think of all those times you wash your hands or pop dirty dishes in the dishwasher. If you’re going to be working from home long term, a solar-water heater could be a great investment, as it reduces water heating costs by up to 80 per cent compared to electric or gas.
By making these simple changes, being more aware of your energy usage, and being on the right energy plan will all help make sure that a home business doesn’t mean big bills.