Remote working is a trend that has taken the world of work by storm in recent years.
According to a Gallup survey in 2022, 3 in 10 workers are now fully remote, with a further 5 in 10 claiming to work ‘hybrid’. That means that just 2 in 10 employees worked entirely on-site during this period – a shocking statistic given the relative popularity of this working arrangement pre-pandemic.
Change offers new opportunities for businesses and employees alike, but it comes with some challenges. Team leaders especially must adapt to the teething difficulties of managing a remote team. One such challenge is the question of how much support businesses should provide to their remote workers. Should they simply provide education about working from home, or should they go one step further and provide financial assistance toward a remote work set-up?
This challenge is particularly pressing in the wake of global events that have pushed up the prices of work equipment, office stationery, and energy bills. There are also long-term environmental concerns about energy consumption that must be addressed.
This article aims to answer your questions about the affordability of remote working, how you can measure your home’s energy-efficiency, as well as several tips for cutting costs on your monthly bill.
How to assess your current energy usage
The first step toward cutting energy costs is to tackle the question of how energy-efficient your current remote work set-up is.
You can do this at home by conducting an energy audit – essentially finding out which devices are the most power-hungry in your house, and why. The easiest way to do this is to install a smart metre, which many energy suppliers offer for free with packages.
When planning to build a home in Sydney, using a smart metre, note the cost of your household’s energy consumption. Then, try turning on your individual devices (e.g. office lights, PC, and peripherals) and measuring the change to the hourly rate of your energy consumption. From here, you can calculate the cost of running your remote work set-up, and the potential cost-savings of making a few tweaks. Compare your set-up’s hourly rate to your co-workers to see if you have room for improvement.
If you’re conducting an energy audit of a larger unit, such as an office workspace, this task will likely become a more time-consuming endeavour. Fortunately, applications like Notion API make it easy to fetch data from multiple sources, helping you to gain a holistic view of your energy consumption. This will surely help you to identify the bottlenecks holding back your energy-efficiency strategy.
7 tips for saving energy while working from home
1. Choose energy-efficient devices and equipment
The most power-hungry device in a work-from-home set-up is the PC, with large desktop computers using up between 200Wh to 600Wh. Luckily, there is an easy fix for outright reducing your consumption – installing an energy-efficient power supply (PSU).
Power supply units are ranked on a scale of Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Titanium. Those classifications correspond to the efficiency ratings, which scale from 80% for Bronze to 92% for Titanium. Therefore, the best PSUs waste just 8% of their energy as heat. This makes your PC run cooler, reducing the need for fans and air conditioning.
Other serial offenders in energy consumption include your peripherals; your printer, scanner, speakers, and laptop (which consumes 75Wh). The best advice here is – if you don’t need to use it, unplug it.
And for team managers, if you can replace equipment with a web-based service, do it. Take the example of switching to a cloud based phone system for business, rather than relying on legacy telephony equipment.
2. Manage your computer's power settings
Once your remote work set-up hardware is assembled, you’ll want to tweak a few settings to reach peak efficiency.
Firstly, you’ll want to navigate to your power-saving settings. Beyond reducing the brightness, you can set a timer to put your screen to sleep when idle. Even better, apps like f.lux can change your display’s settings automatically throughout the day.
The other thing to look at is your audio equipment – with louder volumes equating to higher power consumption. You may find that simply wearing a pair of headphones fits your WFH set-up nicely.
3. Optimize lighting and temperature
Take a step back from your PC and consider your environment. Where are the best places to arrange the lights in your room, both for visibility and for energy-efficiency? And are you still using halogen instead of LED lights?
4. Reduce paper usage
Printing is both energy-intensive and expensive to maintain, with printing supplies reaching eye-watering prices. Your best bet is to make the switch from paper to digital, but you could also just plan to use the office printer on the days when you do work on-site.
5. Improve insulation and ventilation
Heating and cooling your house is another major expense. You should find a temperature that is comfortable for you and let your thermostat do the legwork, rather than periodically blasting it throughout the day.
Sealing drafty doors, replacing ill-fitted air leaks, and installing proper insulation will all help to regulate your home’s temperature. You should also consider simply cooling/heating your desk area during office hours if you’re not using other rooms.
6. Consider renewable energy options
Renewable energy options are a great way to improve your energy-efficiency and relieve pressure on the national grid. Installing solar panels on your roof is one way to future-proof your energy needs with a clean, long-term source. Make sure to research the relevant rebate schemes in your local area, as many local authorities offer incentives for adopting green tech.
7. Change your habits and work routine
Reducing energy consumption can be as easy as making a few changes to your daily habits.
For starters, you should practice disconnecting from work during idle periods, such as lunchtime. Make sure to power off your monitor when leaving the room, or even better, put your devices into sleep mode (namely, your PC and your business phone).
Similarly, switching to a four-day work week could help boost your productivity and reduce the amount of downtime wherein devices are idling unnecessarily.
Additionally, employee appreciation for a remote team structure is important. This could be through virtual team-building activities, sending personalized thank-you notes, or even offering work-related perks such as training opportunities or career development resources. By demonstrating appreciation, team leaders can help build a sense of community and foster a positive work environment, leading to better performance and productivity from their remote teams.
Make your home more energy-efficient
That concludes our list of the best money-saving tips for reducing energy consumption in a remote work set-up. By now you should have a good idea of effective energy-saving habits and the benefits of adopting them.
As with all of the recommendations on this list, make sure to involve your family or housemates in energy-saving efforts. After all, if everyone follows this advice, our utility bills would become cheaper as the demand on energy markets wanes. Do your part to help save energy bills and the environment – get started on an energy audit today!