How to save on energy when working from home

Happy family on couch looking at phone


Posted October 19, 2023

Working from home one or more days per week? Here are eight simple ways to keep energy costs down when working from home.

Higher energy bills from maintaining a comfortable temperature, on top of the extra cost of keeping the lights on and the computer whirring from nine to five, means that many hybrid workers are looking for ways to save on energy, including searching for a new energy provider.

“Rising energy costs, paired with working from home several days a week becoming a workplace norm, means that saving energy at home is top of mind for many Victorians," says RACV Head of Energy, Greg Edye.

So, with warmer temperatures on the horizon; is it possible to be comfortable and keep costs down when you’re working from home? Here are eight simple ways to save energy at home.

Simple ways to save energy when working from home

Shop around for a better energy deal

Even with the utmost of care, if you’re home all day with the lights on, the computer whirring and an electric fan directed at your desk, you’re likely to be using more power than when you're out at the office all day. If you’re not creating your own power through a rooftop solar system, it pays to hunt for the best price.

Look for a reliable energy retailer who offers affordable energy, ideally one with no lock-in contracts and a commitment to a cleaner energy future.

rooftop solar panels on a home

Solar panels can cut down your energy bill. Image: Matt Harvey

Turn off standby mode

Ever noticed the little light that stays on at the bottom of your monitor, even when you’ve turned your computer off? That means the device is in standby mode and is a hidden energy user. Turn off the switch at the wall to ensure that your appliance isn’t draining energy.

Use energy-efficient lightbulbs and lamps

Energy-efficient LED lightbulbs save power and last longer. If you don't need bright overhead lighting to do your work, try using a desk lamp (fitted with an LED bulb) to help reduce your energy usage.

Use energy-efficient equipment

Energy Rating Labels on appliances like computer monitors and printers can help you understand how energy-efficient your home office equipment is.

Buy technology that complies with Australia's Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). You should also check how many stars are shown on the Energy Rating Label - this is always a rating out of 10 stars.

Consider using a laptop instead of a desktop computer when working from home. Laptops can use as much as 90 per cent less energy because they're designed to run without a constant power source.

When it comes to your printer, choose a model that comes with no/low standby mode.

Family working from home

Working from home doesn't have to dramatically increase your energy bills. Image: Getty

Insulate your house to keep the heat out

"Good insulation, shading windows and sealing gaps that might let in heat will help keep the inside temperature down," Greg says.

The Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) says that insulation can help reduce energy bills by as much as 45 per cent a year.

Outdoor window awnings, blinds and shutters are an effective way to keep your home cool as they stop heat from reaching the glass. Interior blinds and curtains will also help.

Double-glazed windows are one of the best ways to improve your home's energy efficiency. DEECA reports that double-glazed windows help reduce heat loss or heat gain by almost 30 per cent compared to single-glazed windows. You can obtain a discount when replacing your single-glazed windows with double-glazed windows through the Victorian Energy Upgrades program.

Sealing gaps and cracks around windows, doors and vents will also help keep the hot air out in summer and cold air in in winter.

Look for tax breaks

Depending on what type of work you do, a percentage of your energy bill may be tax deductible. Do your research using official government websites and talk to your accountant to find out what you're entitled to.

Control your air conditioning

On average, Victorian households spend up to $800 a year (a third of a Victorian household's average energy bill) on heating, according to DEECA.

If you’re not generating your own power through solar, minimising power bills will mean keeping the air conditioner switched off or running low during the day. A ceiling fan, pedestal fan or desk fan could be a cheaper, more energy-efficient alternative.

If you do need to use the air conditioner, aim for 18°C to 20°C in winter and 24°C to 26°C in summer. "Even on scorching days, you should still feel comfortable inside if the temperature is set to these temperatures," Greg says. "For each degree lower you set your thermostat in summer (or higher in winter), you add 10 per cent to the running costs, which could mount to hundreds of dollars over a season."

If you’re running an older air conditioner or refrigerative cooling system, now is a good time to consider upgrading to a new, energy-efficient model. The Victorian Energy Upgrades program provides rebates to eligible households installing approved energy-efficient air conditioners.

You should also keep your air conditioner serviced regularly to improve its efficiency.

man servicing air conditioner

Keep your air conditioner serviced to keep it running at peak efficiency. Image: Supplied

Use smart devices

Smart home devices can also help you save energy. For example, smart thermostats can learn your living habits and heat or cool rooms in line with your work from home schedule, while home office devices connected via smart plugs or power boards can be operated on a timer or manually via a smartphone app.

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