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Going Green in Your Home Office

April 1, 2010 By: Michael Browne

Just by being a travel agent who works at home, you’ve already taken a step toward helping the environment by not commuting. But there’s more that you can do while working at home that can help reduce your impact on the environment, and save you money as well. Here are some tips from

Unplug or turn off unnecessary electronics.
One of the most significant contributors to unnecessary energy usage in your home office is equipment that is typically left on 24 hours a day. Copiers, printers and fax machines are the most energy-intensive type of office equipment because of the amount of time they are left on when not in use. For example, a teleworking customer in a 1,200-square-foot condo in Chicago could save roughly $150 to $250 per year by turning off their two computers overnight.

Look out for "phantom load."
Turning off electronics can make a difference, but many home electronics may still use a small amount of electricity even when turned off, which is called phantom load. Phantom load can range from a few watts to as much as 20 or even 40 watts per item. For instance, you save 50 percent of energy when you turn off your laser printer rather than leaving it idle, but you save the remaining 50 percent when you unplug it.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed when they are turned off, adding up to 10 percent to monthly electric bills. Using a power strip for your computer and all peripheral equipment allows you to completely disconnect the power supply from the power source, eliminating standby power consumption.

Additional tips to reduce energy usage in your home office:

*    Use power management features or unplug unused equipment when not in use.
*    Unplug any battery chargers, cell phone chargers or power adapters when not in use.
*    Make sure your office lighting is replaced with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
*    Turn off lights and other electronics throughout your home while you are in your home office, particularly televisions, video game systems and stereos.

One of the best defenses against unnecessary energy usage in your home office is selecting ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment, which helps save energy through energy-efficient designs and power management features, such as standby, hibernation or sleep. ENERGY STAR qualified imaging equipment delivers the same performance as less efficient models, but is 25 percent more efficient on average.


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