Now that many Americans have been working from home for months, some have been surprised by the higher utility bills that result. But it stands to reason that being home all day and working online would result in higher electric bills, while frequent hand washing and running the dishwasher every day has caused water bills to spike. Here’s how you can save money on your utility bills while working from home.
Let the Sunshine In
Set up your work area near a window or other spot that gets a good amount of natural light throughout the day. Not only will it keep you from having to turn on the lights, sunlight is a mood-booster, too. If you’re bothered by glare on your computer screen, an inexpensive screen filter helps eliminate it (and cuts down on blue light exposure, as well).
Keep an Eye on the Clock
One of the perks of working from home is being able to multi-task with a few household chores during the day. But be aware of the timing. Check with your utility providers to see what they consider “peak hours.” That’s when there’s the highest demand in your area for electricity and using it will cost you the most. Try to minimize the amount of electricity you use during peak hours, and run major appliances like the dishwasher, washing machine, and clothes dryer early in the morning or later in the evening.
Make Incremental Changes
It’s that time of year when some parts of the country already need air conditioning, while others still need the heat. And then there are the lucky folks who can open their windows and enjoy the fresh air and spring breezes. Wherever you are, small changes can help keep your utility costs low while you’re working from home.
Turning the thermostat up or down a few degrees won’t drastically affect your comfort level but will have a big impact on your utility bills. So will running the dryer on a lower setting, or skipping it all together and hanging laundry outside to dry. A few times a week, make meals that don’t require using the oven or stovetop, like hearty sandwiches and salads.
Keep an Eye on Little Things
When it comes to saving money on your utility bills, paying attention to the little things can really help. Take care to unplug small appliances, like the toaster oven and coffee maker, when they’re not in use. Same for all computer and phone chargers. When you leave things plugged in, they draw “phantom power” even though you’re not using them. It might not seem like a big deal, but added up over time and multiplied by several family members, you could save hundreds a year by limiting phantom power usage. Additionally, be sure you’re not leaving lights, televisions and game consoles on when people aren’t using them.
Whether you’re working on a laptop or a desktop, make sure you’re doing so efficiently. Adjust the brightness of your laptop screen or monitors. There’s a good chance it’s turned all the way up, which drains power quickly. Use a dedicated power strip for all your work equipment and turn it off at the end of each day. It’s an easy way to mark the transition from work time to after hours and it will help you save money.