01 of 07
Go Green in Your Home Office
Sure, telecommuting is eco-friendly. Companies like Dell and Xerox have reduced their impact on the environment by promoting telecommuting within their ranks. All those office-bound workers pour pollutants into the air, while telecommuters can feel pretty good about their carbon-free trek to the home office.
However, the telecommuter's home office still uses energy and consumes goods. And guess who usually pays for most of that? The telecommuter. So even a telecommuter can make a special effort to reduce, reuse and recycle to create an office with a lower environmental impact.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
Heating and Cooling
This is the place where telecommuting makes a big impact; where the home-based worker is potentially consuming more energy than his or her office counter part. As a telecommuter you’re heating and cooling an entire house that might otherwise be empty for perhaps only one person. The first utility bill after you start working at home is a reminder of this!
Installing a new zoned heating and air-conditioning system is probably not practical unless you are already upgrading. However keep in mind that such whole-house improvements are partially deductible, if you take the home office deduction. Some simpler ways to save on heating and cooling include closing off vents to bedrooms and other unused areas during the day is. Put on a sweater and turn the thermostat down. Consider getting a timer for your thermostat if it seems like it will be difficult to remember to do this.
In the summer, use a fan in your home office and keep the central AC set at a high temperature. Pulling the shades in the afternoon will keep your office cooler as well. And if you don't have central air, only cool the rooms you are using. Install screens to take advantage of opening the windows during the cooler morning hours.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
Reducing Other Energy Usage
Make sure the lights are off in the rest of the house while you work in your office. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-saving LED or CFL lighting. And use task lighting instead of whole-room lighting when feasible. Put a chair by the window so you can make use of natural light for reading.
At the end of the day, shut down office equipment such as computers, printers and other peripherals. This equipment draws energy while it's off, so to save more energy plug everything into a power strip, and flip that off too.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Buy Better Products
But don't stop at buying better light bulbs! When you purchase anything for your home office from computer equipment to paper shop for environmentally responsible office products.
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- Avoid plastic when possible. Opt for metal or wood desk organizers instead of plastic or for a bamboo floor mat. They will last longer and look better.
- Look for the Energy Star rating on office equipment. It's not just for appliances!
- Buy recycled paper and Earth-friendly cleaning products.
05 of 07
Buying better, more eco-friendly products can be expensive, so make up for it by saving a bit when you give some old stuff a new life. Shop at secondhand stores for your home office furniture. You can find great deals on high quality furniture that companies no longer need, but that is still in great condition. Find new uses in your home office for shelves and furniture than you already own before purchasing anything new. A fresh coat of paint will do wonders to extend the life of old furniture.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
It’s easier than ever now to reduce paper use, so make paperless your goal! Gone are the days when one might waste paper by sending a fax. But many of us still print things to keep on file because that is how the files were set up. With a scanner, you can consolidate your paper files with your electronic files by scanning them in and recycling the paper. Just be sure to back them up in a separate hard drive or online.
When you do print, make double sided copies or print on the back of old documents. Just mark a line through the wrong side. Most of those colorful flyers that come home in children’s bookbags are only printed on one side. Cut them in half and make a pile of scrap paper for use in the eco-friendly office and around the house.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Recycle More Than Paper
Don't trash electronics and furniture when you buy new ones. Think about how to recycle electronics (computers, printers, cell phones, etc.) and other large items. Either find an electronics recycler or sell your old stuff in a garage sale or with online posting.
You may also be able to donate old technology, particularly cell phones, to non-profits and receive a tax deduction. And non-profits like the Salvation Army will take donations of furniture and some electronics. And don't forget about like printer ink cartridges, which can be recycled for cash or credit.