Saving Energy While Working from Home Banner Image
October 2, 2020 News, Sustainability Tips

How can we keep our energy-use at a minimum as we continue to work from home and spend more time indoors?

Despite the lifting of stay-home measures throughout the province, many British Columbians are still working and learning from home. Once the weather turns cold (and wet!), even more of our time will be spent in the comfort of the indoors. This is a great time to re-assess our own at-home working habits to see if there are ways that we can reduce our energy use and increase cost-savings!

Stay-home measures and working from home has changed our electricity use.

  • After an initial spike beginning in March, BC residential energy use in May returned to just 2% higher than the average load. Since June, residential energy has returned to expected usage levels for the time of year.1
  • While there has not been a great change in the amount of electricity being used since the initial spike in March, there have been shifts in how it is being used (waking up later, going to bed earlier).1
  • Overall energy demand in BC dropped significantly in March (by 10%), resulting in operational challenges for BC Hydro due to a surplus of power in its system.2 Demand increased to 7% below pre-COVID-19 load by August and in September, BC Hydro reported that while electricity load is still much below normal for this time of year, there is a steady increase as more people head back to work and businesses begin to open again. 1,3

How has the past 6-months impacted your energy use?

It can be interesting to look at the changes in your household energy use, especially during a time of such significant change in our routines. If you haven’t done so already, check out your electricity usage through MyHydro App, as well as your gas usage through your gas service provider. Do you notice a pattern from March to October? How does the usage compare to the same time of the previous year?

FOLLOW THESE TIPS TO SAVE

  • Make the Switch. If you haven’t done it already, make the switch to LED lights! LED lights are a huge energy, money, and time saver. Over time, depending on what type of light you are switching from, you can save hundreds of dollars every year!

Use this tool to calculate your cost-savings for switching to LEDs.

  • Regulate your temperature correctly. Heat your rooms and space according to what you need. Each degree over 20°C uses around 10% more energy,4 so play around with what temperature you feel comfortable working in. If you have the option, choose to work in a space that is typically warm (less drafty, in the sunlight), if it means that you don’t have to increase the overall temperature of your home.

Do you have difficulty remembering to turn your thermostat down/off, or even to figure out how to program it properly? Think about investing in a ‘Smart’ Thermostat. These devices make it easy to control the temperature of your space, and even help to regulate the temperature so that you aren’t heating empty rooms!

  • Get cozy. Take advantage of the option to wear more relaxed work-from-home outfits, if it means you can decrease your home temperature by a degree or two. Slippers and a cozy blanket for your lap are a great place to start!
  • Let the sunshine in. When possible, use natural lighting to decrease energy-use and to benefit your personal wellness and increase productivity.
  • Get cooking… slowly. Drag out that old slow-cooker you’ve got sitting in the back of the cupboard.  One convenience of being at home is being able to prep meals throughout the day. Slow-cookers are versatile and use a lot less energy than standard ovens. Plus, once you’ve finished work for the day, dinner will be ready!

Using a slow-cooker for 6-hours uses 60% less energy than using an oven for 1-hour

  • Buy it right. Because you’re at home a lot more and putting more load on your appliances and electronics, it’s important to make sure that you buy products that are energy efficient. Always choose products with the Energy Star label!
  • Ward off energy vampires. Up to 10% of electricity drawn through our electronics is wasted, simply because they are plugged in when not in use. To save this waste, all you need to do is unplug your appliances! To make this easier, unplug appliances you only use occasionally. For electronics you use often (such as your computer, laptop, monitor) use a smart strip to control their power source more easily. Power bars require you to unplug them or turn them off to eliminate the standby power, but smart strips actually switch off power to devices when they are not in use.

Keeping a laptop plugged in when it’s fully charged could reduce the battery life and wastes energy. Make sure to unplug your laptop from the charger once it’s hit the maximum charge level.

  • Maintain your balance. Since you are not leaving the house to get to work, or walking from class to class, working from home can lead to a much more sedentary lifestyle. Make sure that you move around during the day by taking routine walks, even if it’s just around the block (or around the house!). Remembering to turn your computer off at the end of each day can help to save energy, but will also keep you from sneaking in once last email.

2020 Energy Rebate Opportunities 

ARTICLE SOURCES

  1. BC Hydro (2020)
  2. BC Hydro (2020)
  3. BC Hydro (2020)
  4. EnergyStar (2020)

Was this helpful?