If you’re looking for ways to keep expenses manageable in this economy, it can be helpful to examine the energy impacts of self-isolating and working from home. The guidelines recommended by government agencies to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus affect energy consumption. After all, entire families are home all day now.
Here, we’ll cover some of the choices and behavior that might be driving up energy use and suggest ways you can save energy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
With millions of Americans staying home 24/7, overall demand for electric power has slumped. Power usage by consumers, however, is soaring. Energy costs have shifted from offices and schools to homes. Cloudflare, a company in the internet infrastructure sector, reports seeing dramatic increases in internet traffic globally, an indicator of the increased energy costs you may see working from home.
In normal times, most homes are quiet during the day, when everyone is at work or at school. That’s different now. Life has changed in many ways because of the new coronavirus, and energy consumption has followed suit:
The impact of the coronavirus on energy consumption can be mitigated, but it isn’t possible to totally eliminate the energy costs of working from home, self-isolating and social distancing. It is possible, however, to save electricity while working from home.
Here are tips for home energy savings that can reduce electricity consumption during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Turning off lights, appliances and digital devices when you leave home is a habit for many. Saving electricity during the COVID-19 outbreak means continuing that habit even when at home.
Consider turning things off when you step away, even if you’re not stepping out. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Put electronics in sleep mode when taking a break. Plug in multiple devices into a power strip, which can make it easy to turn off a half-dozen potential power drains with one switch when breaking for lunch or ending the workday.
This is also a good time to consider smart home energy saving strategies.
Extra streaming at home can not only consume noticeably more energy but also put a strain on bandwidth. It can be awkward for parents when they’re having trouble reporting remotely to work because the kids are bingeing on movies. Establishing a few reasonable ground rules can help:
With boundaries between work and home all but gone and your daily structure removed, you may find you’re wrestling with productivity, distractions and work-life balance. Some may struggle with too much quiet and alone time, while others may have a hard time focusing with children and relatives distracting in the background. In either case, adding structure can help manage your routine and reduce electricity consumption while you’re self-isolating, because you won’t be running work devices all day long.
Consider the following working-from-home strategies:
Your laptop uses considerably less energy than your desktop with a big monitor. The average desktop consumes 194 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, while a laptop uses 75 kilowatt-hours.
Additionally, pay attention to the power management settings on your laptop. Select the settings that minimize power use. Your screen might be a little dimmer, but you’ll be able to reduce more electricity while you’re self-isolating, and the energy savings can add up.
Automate savings by plugging your lights, office equipment and other electrical devices into timers and dimmers. Scheduling times when things power up and down takes worrying about energy off your to-do list. In most locations, hardware stores that sell timers and dimmers are still open, or you could order them online. Purchasing these simple devices can save your household now and also in the long run. Be sure to purchase energy-efficient products with the best ENERGY STAR® ratings.
It’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed during a pandemic. Aside from avoiding infection by the new coronavirus, Americans have the added stress of an economic downturn that’s throwing millions out of work. But that’s why keeping expenses manageable is so important. Saving electricity while working from home and self-isolating is very much in your control.
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