Whether you’re a beginning entrepreneur or a work-from-home pro, there are a variety of free or low-cost ways to save money and improve the energy efficiency of your home office.
Start with your residence
Replacing, retrofitting or repairing your furnace, air-conditioning system and water heater with the latest energy-efficiency technology can help both your home and business save money in utility costs. But there are less pricey solutions as well.
Smart thermostats. Studies show that installing a smart thermostat can lower your home’s overall energy use by as much as 20 percent. Smart thermostats do more than just automatically raise and lower your heat or air-conditioning settings. Consumers Energy has instant rebates on smart thermostats for homeowners and small businesses.
Home maintenance. Caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, along with fixing leaky faucets, will lower your overall utility bill and keep your home office comfortable—which can help make you more productive.
Focus on your office
One of the benefits of having a home office is that it often has its own low-tech energy-efficiency solutions. You can control the temperature simply by opening a window or closing a blind during a hot summer afternoon. If your office has enough windows, you may find you don’t need any artificial lighting at all. But if you do, there are a variety of no- or low-cost high-tech options.
Lighting. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data show that replacing five incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR®-certified LEDs can cut your electricity bill by up to 9 percent. These bulbs can last up to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs, meaning you won’t waste valuable work time changing burned-out bulbs. Consumers Energy offers a wide range of instantly rebated LED lighting for small businesses.
Electronics. ENERGY STAR-labeled office equipment saves an average of 50 percent energy compared to conventional equipment. You can buy ENERGY STAR computers (both desktop and notebook), all-in-one printers, computer monitors and phones.
ENERGY STAR computer monitors save an average of 25 percent on energy. Printers that also scan and copy save 30 percent. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones save 40 percent. ENERGY STAR computer energy savings vary from 30 to 65 percent. Laptops, which use significantly less energy than desktops, are on the high end.
Advanced power strips. One of the main reasons ENERGY STAR office equipment is so efficient is that it has more stringent “sleep” standards than conventional equipment. In addition, DOE data show that power strips that turn off office equipment when not in use can save up to 12 percent on your energy bill.
Advanced power strips (APS) can turn off the electronics plugged into them either via a timer or a sensor that determines when electronics are in use, based on how much electrical current runs through them.
Whether you work from home full-time or part-time, these simple, inexpensive solutions can help improve your business’s energy use while also helping to make you more comfortable and productive. If your home office or barn has a separate meter, you can qualify for Consumers Energy’s Small Business Energy Efficiency Solutions in addition to any Energy Efficiency Solutions for Your Home.