One of the assumptions made in favor of remote working is that employees can save money they would spend commuting, which is largely true. A large chunk of our salary goes into commuting, most of which is to and from work.
For example, a report from iScoot found that the average monthly fuel spend on commuting was around $270 per month. Those who live in Central Business Districts spend as much as $7,432 ($619/month) to $14,639 ($1,219/month) per year for a 5 day per week work commute.
Obviously, if someone were to start working from home, they can expect massive savings simply by cutting out the cost of commuting from their monthly expenditure. But, staying at home longer means you’re using more electricity which is bound to bump up your power bills.
University of Sydney’s Transport Opinion survey found that a single resident working from home can add $340 in summer and $324 during winter over a three month period to the home’s power bill. That’s obviously a good chunk of change and can rival commuting costs very easily.
Breaking Down Power Costs When Working From Home
Even though a home office setup is thought to be the greatest energy consumer, it ranks second overall. As per the University of Sydney’s findings:
- Heating can cost up to $233.8/quarter while cooling costs around $250.2/quarter,
- Home office (computer, printer, phones, lighting) can cost upto $52.90/quarter.
- Kitchen use (microwave, electric cooktops etc) is next at $41.34/quarter.
- Entertainment (TV, speakers) costs $13.91/quarter.
The above numbers are to give a general idea of how energy usage patterns look overall and is a good starting point for an energy management plan. Since we’re considering energy costs while working, we will only take heating/cooling and home office related energy costs below. Here are a few ideas to reduce your overall power use if you’re planning to work from home long term.
Heating and Cooling Costs
Let’s start with the biggie. The most straightforward way to bring down heating and cooling costs is to use your AC or heating system as sparingly as possible. You can also set your thermostat to a target temperature. 18 to 20 degrees celsius during winters and 24 to 25 degrees during the summer months is generally considered ideal for maximum efficiency. But, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Firstly, the general perception is that heaters and ACs monitor the ambient temperature and adjust the output accordingly to match the set temperature. This is incorrect however and modern heaters and cooling systems supply air at a steady temperature.
When the ambient temperature reaches the set value, they simply turn off. When the system senses the temperature is rising/decreasing, it turns back on again. This has two implications:
- A heating/cooling system’s efficiency depends heavily on outside air temperature. The greater the difference between your room and outside temperature, the harder your system needs to work, driving up your power bill.So, if your area’s temperature is 12 degrees and you set the thermostat to 20, your system will consume more energy than if the outdoor temperature was 18 degrees. The same principle works in reverse during summer.
A difference of one degree can increase your bill by 10 percent, so try and get your room as close to outside temperature as you comfortably can.
- How much your heating/cooling system works also depends a lot on the room’s insulation. Poor insulation means that heat during the winter months will quickly escape while the same room will heat up faster in the summer. With better insulation, you have more wiggle room in setting a temperature to your liking.
So, what can you do to keep your power bills low here? For starters, consider working from a smaller, well insulated room. The smaller the room, the less energy it will take to control its temperature.
As we saw above, insulation is king when it comes to saving up on power costs. It’s worth noting that insulation doesn’t just keep the heat in during winter. Since insulation stops the movement of heat, it can also prevent outside heat from coming into your home.
With high quality insulation, your heating/cooling system can manage a greater temperature difference between your room and outside without working too hard.
Next, consider plugging air leaks and drafts in your workspace. An incense stick can help you identify gaps in walls, windows, floor and corners. Simple items such as weather seals, duct tape, rugs and floor coverings can patch up any leaks affordably.
Constantly opening windows and doors lead to far more energy loss than you may think. Install some blinds on your windows for added insulation if you haven’t already and make sure all the doors are properly closed when you enter or leave your work room.
A quick and easy way to need less temperature regulation is to simply wear weather appropriate clothing. Instead of turning up the temperature in winter, you can instead wear warmer clothes. Routine exercise breaks can greatly help keep yourself warm, too.
Home Workspace Related Costs
Computers, lighting, phones and printers can be very power-hungry, but most devices have a variety of power saving modes and features. Look for your computer’s power management options and turn it to “power saver” mode.
Laptops and netbooks are more ideal for working from home than desktops as the latter can be very demanding without adding much in the way of productivity. When you’re away from the desk, put your computer in sleep mode to conserve energy.
Computer monitors use a lot of power, but for general office-related tasks, they needn’t be used at the brightest setting. Dim down your monitor’s brightness to the most comfortable level and turn on your computer’s night mode.
Phones and other electrical office appliances like printers shouldn’t be kept hooked to the socket throughout the day either. Phones cannot run on AC power so constantly charging them is pointless. Printers and photocopy machines actually use quite a bit of power even when idle. You can use a smart powerboard to keep all appliances off when not needed.
Room lighting is another expense where you can save a lot with some forethought. Try using natural light as much as possible. If lights are needed, then LED bulbs are your best bet since they consume the least amount of power.
Go Solar and Save Big
The above mentioned steps will help you keep your power bills while working from home to a minimum. But, what if you could eliminate the bills altogether? Solar power is more affordable, reliable and easier to get than ever before.
Most solar power systems have a payback period of around four years, which means once you can work from home for little to no cost once your system has recouped its upfront price. Being Australia’s premier solar search engine, bidmysolar™ can help you get the best solar power outcome..
Our Advanced System Design method uses proprietary technology to assess your home for its total solar potential via LIDAR (Light Imaging Detection and Ranging), satellite imaging, energy consumption simulation and sun path simulation to get the best possible result.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. Or, call us at 1300-004-600.