By Katie Smallwood
Chartered Accountant, mum of 2 kids
Saving Electricity (and money!)
5 tips to slash your energy bill
I run an accounting business from home. Due to the nature of my business, I use a lot of electricity. There’s always a computer, a second monitor, a printer, a binding machine, a TV , and a shredder on the go, a laptop charging and I’m using my kitchen all day long. As well as this, I have another big problem: the lighting in my office. This is an issue for two reasons; the natural light is terrible in the day, and I often work at night. So you may ask, why is all this electricity usage a problem for me? And the answer to that is this – because electricity costs money.
So, while I absolutely love working from home the one thing I don’t like is the quarterly electricity bill. But, this isn’t just a problem for me though: there are many people who work from home, either full-time or to supplement the part-time arrangements some employers offer.
But over the last few years I’ve learnt a few tricks that have reduced my electricity bills significantly. And here’s a summary of the methods I’ve employed to control my electricity consumption.
Deal with yourself not your space
My office is unfortunately the coldest room in winter and the hottest room in summer, and, coupled with it being quite dark, it begins to feel a little like where Harry Potter was shoved. I have seriously considered stealing my son’s room, which is bigger and better, but…well…actually I might still do that. Anyway, I digress.
One of the first things I did to try and curb my electricity spending was to avoid my reverse cycle air-conditioning unit. Funnily enough, this is one of the reasons I make sure my client’s text me before they Skype me. Carry on and you will see why.
In summer, particularly the peak heat days, I can be found in my office with a face towel around my neck that is soaked in cold water. And my outfits become alarmingly skimpy for a woman who is not as fit (although still as fabulous) as she should be. However, we do use the air-con just before bedtime for the kids so that they sleep (or anytime for the children to sleep!) and I try to finish up then too.
In winter I have been known to have stockings on underneath my tracksuit pants, wear multiple jumpers, as well as the occasional dressing gown and blanket. Yes, I look so damn sexy it’s not funny.
So while it may not be pretty, it’s effective. Besides, isn’t the luxury of comfort half the benefit of working from home?
Unplug to unplug
Did you know that the only way to stop the electricity flow to your various electrical implements is to unplug them? So, at the end of the day, one of the best things you can do is turn them all off and pull out the cord completely.
The additional benefit is this: if your computer can’t issue its siren song you can’t hear it. I speak from experience when I say that it is extraordinarily hard to turn everything off – both literally and figuratively – when you work from home. As you work, your brain ticks over constantly – there is all the housework/washing/cooking/kids that demand your attention waiting just outside the door. And yet, when you ‘finish work’ to attend to these numerous demands, and a soft ‘ping’ is heard from the computer as a new email comes in, your mind swaps back to work. But, and I will let you in on a little secret, if the computer is turned off, no one can hear it!
Use your equipment
Here are a few little tweaks you can make to save big on your bill:
- Use your curtains – during the day keep them open to let in the natural light. And, if it’s cold, close them to keep the heat in.
- Use energy efficient appliances while you work, where possible
- Use a slow cooker for dinner – it’s another energy efficient appliance and you are home to monitor its progress. But, a word of caution on this: it won’t help your snacking. All those wondrous smells may make it hard to ignore your stomach.
- Use your doors – get a small fan or heater of some sort, shut the office door and deal with the space. And, finally,
- Use the right lights.
And, either way, make sure you discuss with your friendly neighbourhood accountant about how to claim your electricity usage as a tax deduction.