Working from home has become increasingly popular, even necessary, in recent years. For people who are concerned about climate change, eliminating the need for a lengthy commute is clearly a good thing, but there is more that your home office can do to help the environment.
Light your workspace with natural light
If you work from home, you know how important it is to have a well-lit office space. Not only does good lighting help you to see your work clearly, but it can also improve your mood and increase your productivity.
If possible, position your desk near a window so that you can enjoy the benefits of sunlight throughout the day. In addition to helping you to see better, natural light has been shown to boost energy levels and improve concentration
Ditch your printer
It’s more doable than you might think to operate a paperless office. In today’s digital world, printed materials are becoming less essential. Read documents on screens wherever possible and save them as PDFs whenever you can. Only print things when it’s absolutely necessary.
If you must use paper, make sure it’s made from 100 percent recycled content paper and if your work requires that you produce professionally printed materials, ask your printer to use recycled paper, as well.
Replace air purifiers and artificial plants with high-quality and natural pot plants. Plants not only add greenery to your space, but they also improve air quality by functioning as natural air purifiers.
Plants aid in the reduction of volatile organic compounds and air pollution, allowing you and the environment to breathe a bit easier. Take a look at this list of plants that would be ideal desk companions
Manage your energy usage
Working from home, rather than at a huge corporate campus, gives you an opportunity to tackle one of the thorniest issues limiting conservation: Vampire Energy Consumption.
Vampire energy is the power that home appliances and office machines consume even when they are shut off. It’s also known as standby power because it is essentially the cost of having our home office equipment available on standby, rather than needing to boot it up whenever we want to use it.
Vampire energy can account for as much as 20% of your monthly electricity bill.
For some home office equipment, electricity consumption is almost identical whether the machine is on or on standby. An inkjet fax machine, for example, uses an average of 6.22 watts while it’s on and 5.31 watts when it’s in standby mode.
So unplugging your office equipment while it’s not being used and turning it on only when you’re about to use it is a great way to make your home office greener.
Electrify Your Home
While we’re on the subject of energy, making sure that your energy is all-electric is another great way to help the environment. The home-electrification movement is gaining momentum worldwide and, given that your home office is, by definition, located in your home, that means taking a careful look at how you heat the home and where you get your hot water.
Replacing your oil or natural gas furnace with heat pumps or mini-splits could entitle you to certain incentives that are only available to homeowners.
Massachusetts has a goal of converting 1 million homes from fossil fuel to heat pumps and eliminating 50% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Through the Mass Save program, the state is offering $10,000 in rebates per home for air source heat pumps and $15,000 in rebates per home for ground source ones.
Naturally, your home office would become more climate-friendly if you were to install heat pumps in your house.
Install Solar Panels at Home
The same is true of solar panels. The incentives that are available for homeowners through the Baystate’s SMART Program(Solar Massachusetts Renewable Targets) mean that Massachusetts solar companies can often be installed on a residential property with zero upfront cost.
Quite possibly the biggest single thing you can do to make your home office more climate-friendly is to ensure that all the electricity it uses comes from renewable sources.
Don’t Forget the Car
While we may not need a car to commute to our place of work, for many of us, the car is merely an extension of the home office. So any attempt to make our home office more climate-friendly must at least consider the adoption of an electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are becoming so mainstream that it’s quite possible that you’ve already purchased their last internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.
And since 86% of EV charging is currently done at the home of the vehicle’s owner, the installation of an electric vehicle charging station at your home would give your “mobile home office” a much lower carbon footprint.
These seven are just some of the ways you can make your home office more sustainable and green. Following these tip, as well as purchasing environmentally friendly items like LED light bulbs, recycled paper and using energy-saving office equipment, can help make your home office just as green—if not greener—than the one you were previously working in.
Michael Jones is is a solar consultant for Sunrun and the founder of SwitchingtoElectric.com, which explores the home electrification movement and helps homeowners to manage the transition. You can contact Michael here.