One of the things I like about working at home is that it’s a relatively eco friendly option. I don’t have to drive to work, so my van gets relatively little use. There are many other ways, however, that you can be eco friendly while working at home.
1. Reset Your Thermostat
Compared to a lot of people I know, I keep my house relatively cool in winter and warm in summer. My air conditioner doesn’t go off until the house is about 80 degrees F, and the heater goes off below about 68 degrees F. This saves a lot of energy.
While this may sound uncomfortable, it really isn’t. There is a ceiling fan in my home office, which uses much less power than an air conditioner. Moving air feels much cooler than it really is.
In winter, it’s a matter of dressing just a little warmer.
It doesn’t take much to get used to a house that is a little on the warm or cool side. The great part is that it makes it easier to go outside if you aren’t used to perfect air temperatures all the time. Use a programmable thermostat to make it easy to keep your home temperature just right.
2. Open A Window When The Weather Is Right
When the weather is nice enough, I open windows. The fresh air is good for the house, and it takes no power to open them up. When the weather is pleasant, it helps keep the house at a nice temperature.
3. Use Natural Light When Possible
Opening the windows doesn’t just let air in – it lets in light. You don’t have to open the windows to get light, however. So long as the curtains or blinds are open, you’ll get light.
If the weather is very hot and the sun comes in directly through that window, it may be more efficient to cover the window and use the lights in your house. Too much heat in through the window may make your air conditioner turn on more.
Make sure your light bulbs are CFLs or LEDs for the times you have to turn them on.
4. Print As Little As Possible
It’s amazing how little most people who work at home have to print. It’s very rare for me.
Most receipts and such that I get online and need to keep, I file online or on my computer. That way I’m still keeping track, but not using paper. When it’s no longer relevant, I need only hit the delete key, rather than recycle or shred the papers. It’s a much easier form of storage.
If you do have to print, try to use both sides of the paper. Some printers can handle this on their own for multi-page printouts. You can always save paper for printing on the other side regardless of what your printer can handle on its own. Anything that doesn’t have to be printed for someone else’s purposes can probably share the paper with another printout.
5. Let Your Computer Sleep
When you aren’t using your computer, let it go into sleep mode. Set the sleep setting for a reasonable time for the way you use your computer – 15 minutes is usually safe enough. You can let it turn off your monitor sooner than that if you like, but you’ll save the most if your computer sleeps when you aren’t actively using it.
When your cell phone is done charging, unplug it if the charger doesn’t turn itself off automatically. Same for your laptop and any other rechargeable devices you have.
When you have to use paper or other recyclable materials while working at home, make sure you do recycle them.
This is easy in my area, as we don’t have to sort recyclables from each other. We get a bin for trash, a bin for recyclable, and a bin for yard waste. So long as those are kept separate, and the recyclables are reasonably clean, further sorting isn’t necessary here.
Make sure you recycle your old electronics too. I’m hoping to be able to replace my iPhone 4 sometime soon, and it will be sent for recycling when the time comes. The big reason I want to replace it is that too many apps I use are losing compatibility with it – the OS is too out of date. That and a slight freezing up problem here and there.
You can often find electronics recycling events in your area. My favorite is when it’s a fundraiser for a local school, so that the students benefit. Try to be sure that it’s a reputable electronics recycling company, as some have very questionable practices. Be sure to wipe all data before sending any electronics for recycling.
You can also recycle ink cartridges. Some office supply stores take them and give you a discount on new ones.
8. Drink Water From A Reusable Bottle
Water is the healthiest and most eco friendly option you can drink. You can get it from your tap, although you may need a good filter in some areas to improve the taste and remove excess chemicals. It’s cheap when you drink tap water, and using a glass from your cabinet or a reusable water bottle, makes for very little waste.
I prefer my stainless steel water bottle to a glass of water because there’s no risk of spillage. It can be knocked over, and nothing will come out. Between kids, cats, and my own occasional clumsiness, that’s a good thing. Stainless steel lasts pretty much forever. I’ve dented my bottle, but it would take a lot to break it.
9. Buy Used Office Furniture
My office chair is absolutely wonderful. Comfortable and ergonomic. I got it for $5 at a garage sale. Lucky find, but seek such finds out when furnishing your home office. You’ll save a lot of money.
You can also shop thrift stores or Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore. I’m amazed at what they have every time I go.
10. Repair Things
If something breaks, see if it can be fixed. My husband’s office chair had a wheel break recently, and he was complaining at first that he didn’t want to spend money on a new chair, but thought we would need to. I hopped onto Amazon, and found new wheels for the chair. The switch was incredibly easy to make, taking only a few minutes once the new wheels arrived.
Computers and other office gear can be harder to repair, but it is often possible. Some jobs may require very up to date equipment, but keep your electronics as long as you can rather than buying new every chance.
11. Make Your Own Lunch And Snacks
It’s not that hard to make your own lunch when you work at home. Keep some basic supplies around, and you can have a good lunch without a lot of waste.
I package dinner leftovers for easy lunches. They’re almost as easy as microwaveable lunches, but without the leftover packaging. I also keep easy foods to make for lunch around.
Do something similar for your snacks during the day. Having a supply of chopped veggies, for example, makes it much easier to grab a healthy, low waste snack. If you want chips or something less healthy, decide if your self control will let you have the big bag in the house to decrease the waste, while limiting your serving to an appropriate amount in a bowl.
12. Add Some Plants
Adding a few houseplants to your office makes for some nice scenery and can help clean the air. I like growing orchids. They’re just a little something to brighten my day.
13. Consider Solar Power
If your power bill is high enough, solar power may be a good option for you. How well solar will do for you depends on your area and electricity usage, but some people find paying for the panels cheaper than their electric bill had been. It’s still not cheap, but it might be your best deal.
Do you have any other tips for having an eco friendly home office? What works best for you?