These days, more and more people are working from home. In fact, over the past ten years, the number of telecommuters in America has increased by nearly 115 percent! People are completing writing, business, accounting, or other assignments from the comfort of their own home, meaning that more people than ever have the opportunity to spend more precious time with their families.
If you are going to be working from home, though, you are going to need a home office. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy (pretty much just a desk and a computer will do) as long as it is functional, and a great place to get work done. To make your home office even better, though, you might consider making it more eco-friendly.
Some people might be thinking that an eco-friendly office is impossible: computers are notorious for sucking up too much energy, not to mention all that paper coming out of the printer 24/7! Those people, though, might be surprised to learn that creating a greener office doesn’t actually take that much effort. In fact, there are many things you can do to get started today!
Here are the three main issues you should address if you would like to create a greener, more eco-friendly home office:
1. The Computer
There is no denying that computers are one of the primary sources of energy waste in a home or office (or home office!). This is especially true if they are left on indefinitely. Being plugged into a power source, a computer that is left idle all day long is just siphoning endless energy, most of which is lost due to the fact that the computer is not doing anything but sitting there, waiting for you to need it again.
You might think that this is just the nature of a computer, but that is simply not true. There are many ways to make a computer more energy efficient, either by buying a new one, or changing the way you use your current one. Here are just a few options:
- Replace your desktop computer with a laptop. Laptop computers consume much less energy than a desktop due to the simple fact that they do not always have to be plugged into a power source to operate. A desktop, on the other hand, must be connected to electricity to run, and thusly uses up much more of it. To make matters worse, the average desktop requires more power to run its internal processes, as opposed to the lighter, more straightforward laptop alternatives.
- Buy an Energy Star computer. Appliances and other products with an Energy Star label have been proven to consume much less energy, which not only makes your office greener, but saves you money too!
- Use the “power-saving” modes on your computer. If you are one of those people who just absolutely has to leave the computer running during the entire day for the sake of quick access when you need it, consider putting it in hibernation mode or sleep mode instead of leaving it on. These modes both save your session, and the computer wakes up quickly when you need it, allowing you to pick up where you left off in no time at all.
2. The Paper
Next to energy loss, the most eco-“unfriendly” thing about an office is the endless wasting of paper. It is true that you might often need to print out documents for your files, or to mail or fax to someone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to waste a ton of paper to do so. Here are several things you can start doing right this minute to stop using so much paper and start saving those trees!
- Think before you print. Does this document absolutely have to be printed? Or can I email it to someone, or save it in a file on the computer or a flash drive? If it isn’t essential for you to print it, don’t print it. The forests will thank you!
- If you do have to print something, make it double-sided. This might not be possible for a legal document or contract, but if you are printing out information or copies for your own records, print on both sides of the paper, so that you only use half as much. You can change this setting in the “Properties” tab of the dialog box that comes up when you click “Print.”
- Reuse and Recycle. Did you accidentally print out an extra copy of something? Use the back of the page as scrap paper for handwritten notes! This, along with putting used paper in the recycling bin when you are finished with it can go a long way toward conserving paper and saving the environment. To take it a step further, you can even start buying recycled paper to use in your printer, so that you save even more wildlife!
3. Lighting, Flooring, and Insulation
The first two items on our eco-friendly list concerned the things that are inside your home office. This last one is based on the structure of the office itself. It is great to save energy with your computer and other office appliances, but wouldn’t it be better to save energy all the time, without even thinking about it?
By addressing the lighting, flooring, and insulation situations in your home office (and your home in general), you can create an environment that is constantly saving energy. This not only helps the environment outside that room, but can greatly lower your electric bill. Here are three ways to get started:
- Replace your light bulbs. Swap out your incandescents for compact florescent lamp (CFL) bulbs or LED bulbs. These consume up to 75 percent less energy! It also helps to remember to turn off the light when you leave the room, or if it is a sunny day and you don’t need it.
- Go green with your flooring choices when renovating. are 3 times harder than oak and ideal for high traffic settings. Its is much less harmful to the environment than other types of hardwood flooring or tile. Other eco-friendly flooring options include eucalyptus, cork, recycled rubber, or even recycled glass tiles made from remnants of discarded soda bottles.
- Make sure your home office is properly insulated. Do you feel a draft coming in around the window behind your desk? Is it always chilly in your office in the winter, even when the heater is on? Take a look at the sealant around your windows and doors, and seal or replace anything that is letting outside air in, or inside air out. This will save tons of energy per year, and will cut down on your heating and air conditioning costs.
Addressing these three home office issues is a great start to making your office an eco-friendly oasis. Remember, though, that this is just the tip of the iceberg: there are countless other ways to go green in your home office, including buying energy-efficient printers and other office appliances, and finding other ways to reduce waste. Having a greener home office will go a long way toward helping you do your part to preserve our world, and knowing that you are saving the environment might actually make you feel more excited to start work every day!