Businesses are doing more than ever to reduce the amount of energy and water they use and improve their relationship with waste.
But things tend to get thrown out of the window when we run a business from home or work from home, don’t they?
From leaving your phone on charge, to turning up the thermostat, there are several ways you waste energy that you probably don’t think about.
To celebrate World Environment Day (which is today, by the way), here are some top tips to reduce your energy, water, and waste while working from home.
Turn appliances off standby
Appliances that are left on standby still consume electricity and cost money to run. An appliance that uses 1 watt an hour on standby will cost you £1.23 a year to run if your cost per unit of electricity is 14p p/kWh.
Older appliances like televisions can consume up to 12 watts an hour on standby. Spread this over three or four appliances, and you could be adding up to £30 to your annual electricity bill without using these appliances at all.
Use a lower washing temperature
You can use less electricity when you run your dishwasher or washing machine by simply choosing a lower temperature.
Washing machines and dishwashers use electricity to keep water hot during a cycle. Less electricity is needed to maintain cooler temperatures.
Set your computer and laptop to snooze during the day
We’ve all been guilty of leaving our computer and laptop on for hours at a time when we’re not using it and wasting electricity in the process.
By setting your computer and laptop to snooze after 10 or 20 minutes of activity, you will ensure you don’t accidentally leave them turned on.
A laptop will consume 2 watts of electricity an hour in snooze mode and a computer will consume around 4 watts. Under power, that jumps to 50 watts and 100 watts.
Only charge your devices when you need to
Your smartphone, tablet and laptop each have a battery that allows them to be used for hours at a time without plugging in.
And yet, plenty of people leave their device plugged in during the day. This is especially common with laptops and smartphones (in the case of smartphones, wireless charging has made the problem more prevalent).
This is not only bad for your electricity bill, but it’s also bad for your device because batteries need to run regular cycles to stay in good health.
Be smart with your lighting
We all leave lights on by mistake sometimes. Every so often is fine, but remember this is a drain on electricity, and it is completely avoidable.
You should also upgrade to LED light bulbs if you haven’t already. LED bulbs consume less power than CFL eco light bulbs and they have a longer shelf life – around 50,000 hours, which is approximately 10 times longer than the equivalent CFL.
Be smart with your central heating
You can save energy with central heating by leaving the thermostat at less than 19°C, or you can make sure it uses no energy at all by putting on a jumper.
Heating isn’t a bad thing because we all need to be warm – but excessive heating and turning up the thermostat only wastes energy.
Top tip – did you know you can also save money on your home energy bills by switching to a business energy tariff? If you work from home or run your business from home, you could qualify for micro business status. Read our guide to working from home and business energy to find out more.
Install low flow aerators on taps
Aerators work by mixing water with air to affect water pressure. The result is you will use less water when you wash your hands or wash up.
Aerators are inexpensive (a pair can be picked up for around £5) and they come in universal sizes, offering simple plug and play installation.
Use a dehumidifier (and use the water it collects)
If you have a basement or an area of your home with moisture, such as a utility room, a dehumidifier will collect excess water from the air. You can then reuse this to water your garden or wash your car.
You can also get a similar effect with a condenser dryer – these dryers collect the moisture from wet clothes and store it in a tank.
Run shorter washing cycles
You can significantly reduce the amount of water you use by running shorter washing cycles with your dishwasher and washing machine.
Most washing machines and dishwashers have an ‘eco’ or ‘time saver’ mode. Using these modes will help you save a lot of water.
Take a shower instead of bathing
Filling a bathtub requires around 70 gallons of water, yet a 10-minute shower uses only around 25 gallons of water. This simple fact means showers are more efficient, better for the environment and better for your water bill.
Put a plastic water bottle in your toilet tank
Toilet tanks stop filling when they reach a certain level. You can reduce the amount of water used in this process with a 500ml bottle,
Fill a normal 500ml bottle with water and secure it inside your toilet tank. Now, whenever your toilet tank refills, 500ml of water will be saved, and it’s completely safe too!
Say no to plastic
Whenever you can, you should say no to plastic. Plastic waste does not decompose over a quantifiable period, and the last plastic bottle you drank from will probably outlast the whole human race if it ends up in a landfill.
Here are some ways to reduce your plastic:
- Use reusable shopping bags
- Give up bottled water
- Use your own flasks and drinking cups
- Carry a travel bottle with you
- When you order a takeaway, ask for eco packaging
Buy a composter
A composter is a bin that you use to breakdown organic material for reuse in the garden. You can throw leaves, garden matter, grass, fruit peel, vegetables and more into the bin and use the compost it creates for your gardening.
Use colour-coded bins
If like most homes you have a black bin and a green bin, you can make better recycling decisions by using colour-coded bins in your home.
These let you separate paper, tins and cans, plastics, glass and food waste. You can then dispose of your waste properly, which is better for the environment.
Buy preloved goods
If you need a table, chairs, new clothes or even a mirror, local charity and thrift shops are great places to find preloved and vintage goods.
By buying preloved, you will reduce your personal environmental impact and not have to deal with all the plastic packaging new goods come in.
Opt-out of paper communication
Whether we’re talking about bank statements, clothes catalogues or takeaway menus, paper is unnecessary in this day and age.
Digital documents are the future and it’s easy to sort digital communication in email. Going paperless is simply way better for the environment.
If your business also has an office, be sure to also read our guide to reducing business waste in an office.