Once upon a time, most of us went to work in offices. Which usually meant that we used less energy at home simply because fewer people (or no one) were home during the day. Then 2020 happened.
Since then we’ve seen a shift in how many of us work, and what that means for our electric bills at home. If you’re one of the homeowners in Montana wondering how to save energy and money at home, we’re here to help.
In the next few paragraphs, we’ll cover some easy things you can do to save money when working from home if you don’t have rooftop solar yet, and still have to rent your power from the utility company.
Changing Work Habits & Your Electric Bill
While working from home and telecommuting is not a new thing, you’ve likely seen the news articles looking at the massive shift of office-based jobs to home-based work situations. What at one point was a rarely received perk, or only for certain industries, has become a normal way for many people to work.
Even if you weren’t one of the people working at home in 2020 or now, you likely know someone who made the shift.
While many folks who worked from home during the beginning of the pandemic have headed back to work in offices, the switch to more people working from home has stuck around. With around 36% of jobs in our state viable for at-home work, that’s a lot of homeowners who may be covering the cost of everything they need to turn living room corners, guest rooms, and garages into at-home offices.
Add in the cost of paying for dirty energy from coal and natural gas power plants, and the savings you might expect when working from home start to chip away.
Does Working From Home Really Cost More?
Working from home might simply be plugging in a computer, maybe an extra light, and a few more rounds with your coffee maker. Plus, you’re saving money on expenses related to your commute.
So it can’t really make much of a difference on your home electric bill, right? Surprisingly, it might be costing you more than you think.
The increase in home electric bills even resulted in studies that showed at-home work costs homeowners $600 more a year on their electricity bills than if they worked from an office. While working from home might mean you spend less money on eating out and your commute, that doesn’t necessarily mean those savings will make up for the extra energy you’ll pay for at home.
Especially during the dark, cold days of winter, or during a heat dome in the summer.
Unlike other home habits, you can’t exactly tell your boss you need to spend less time with your computer on because your electric bill is too much. While during the start of the pandemic, some were questioning whether or not employers should help offset these costs with stipends, for the most part the extra cost falls on the employee at home.
How to Save at Home in Montana
If your boss isn’t keen to cover your rising power bill, you’re not just stuck with a higher bill. There are some simple and affordable ways to cut down on your electricity usage and save.
Check Sneaky Power Users
Your TV, coffeemaker, chargers for phones and tablets, and other electronics in your home might be sucking power even when they’re off.
This is called vampire power or a phantom load, and can add up quickly. Keeping your devices from sucking your bank account dry is as simple as unplugging them when not in use.
For things like your TV and game consoles, keeping those on a surge protector that can be unplugged all at once makes that even easier.
Full Dishwashers and Full Freezers – Lower Bills
Running your dishwasher only when it’s really full means you’ll not only save by running fewer loads of dirty dishes, but you’ll cut down on how often you have to empty the dishwasher.
Beyond a full dishwasher, keeping your freezer and fridge more full means that the fridge won’t have to work as hard to cool an empty space. The food in your fridge and freezer actually helps to insulate the space and regulate temperature.
Give Your Thermostat a Nudge
Whether it’s from a heater to keep your house warm in the winter, or air conditioning in the summer, heating and cooling your house can cause your power bill to skyrocket.
To save money, try nudging your thermostat down in the winter and pulling on a cozy sweater. In the summer, turn on a ceiling fan to help move the air more efficiently so the air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard.
Switch Out Light Bulbs and Switch to High Efficiency Appliances
An easy, quick way to save some cash is to switch out any lingering, filament style light bulbs. LED bulbs can save the average homeowner more than $16 a month on their electric bill.
For a higher impact, but also a more time intensive change, updating any old appliances that you have at home for high efficiency models can save you hundreds.
If you’re a homeowner who still has a mix of natural gas and electric appliances at home, you might want to consider going all electric. Especially if you’re looking to install solar, an all electric home can reduce your bills and make for a safer home.
Save the Most with Solar
The biggest way to save money while working from home is to stop renting your power altogether.
With affordable, quality rooftop solar installed, you never have to worry about a painful power bill again.