How to make your working area at home (more) climate-friendly
More and more companies want to create sustainable workplaces. But what about home offices? Here's where you can make an important impact yourself – and it's easier than you might think.
For many companies, home office was first only intended as an interim solution during the pandemic. Now, a significant majority of employers and employees plan on keeping the home office in the long run, at least for a minimum of one day per week. Therefore, it makes sense to also look at your domestic workstation with respect to sustainability: where are obvious potentials for improvement? In the following, we've compiled some tips for you.
- Let your printer work short time
Every fifth tree chopped down worldwide ends up in paper production. Every page not printed is hence an active contribution to the protection of the environment and the climate. If you cannot avoid printing, you should consider printing both sides of the sheet. Most of the printers are capable of doing so nowadays. But be careful: a sheet that has already been printed on one side must not be used for a laser printer again. Otherwise it might cause damage to the device. You should not run into any trouble with inkjet printers, though. Use the preview and only select the pages you want to print. This not only saves paper but also the expensive toner.
- Ventilate correctly to save heating costs
Regular ventilation is not only recommended in times of pandemic like these. It also floods the workplace with oxygen and promotes fresh ideas. However, you should not leave the window tilted for too long since it wastes a lot of heating energy. The golden rule of perfect ventilation is: short and intensive, but regularly.
- Save data and hence electricity
The servers we use to send e-mails and store data require a lot of energy, regardless of whether they are operated in your local data center or in the cloud. If you want to save energy, you should hence avoid multiple saving and send download links instead of entire files. If the attachment is required, you can compress the data. The data flood – and hence the power consumption – can also be minimized by regularly cleaning out and deleting server drives, cloud storages, and your e-mail inbox.
- Surf in power saving mode
Internet searches, video streaming and video conferencing also use up huge data volumes, and hence energy. You think it can't be that bad? Go ahead and test your data consumption using the carbon analyzer by the French think tank theshiftproject.org. You will be surprised. Some easy tips can already help you to significantly reduce your data consumption. For instance, resort to a smaller screen when you stream videos. In meetings via Zoom, Teams and the like, you can also turn off your camera during a presentation. Everybody will focus on the speaker anyway. And one more tip: disable the autoplay function for all devices and apps that play videos.
- Use green search engines
When you want to search the Internet, it doesn't always have to be the monopolist with capital G. There are more climate-friendly alternatives. For instance, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has its own search engine: Panda Search. Half of the advertising revenues go to the WWF projects. The operators of the search engine Ecosia actively engage in climate protection as well. Not only do their servers run on renewable energies, they also plant trees with the profits from the search requests and give account to the public.
- Check your hardware
You can save even more electricity with the selection of the right device. For example, laptops have been designed to require less power than desktop PCs all along. After all, the battery is supposed to last as long as possible. Furthermore, many mobile devices contain an energy management system with power saving mode. Screen savers are real power guzzlers, which is why you should disable them. Reducing the brightness of your screen is not only a good deed for the climate but also for your eyes. And then there's a rather underestimated energy thief: the WLAN router. Since it is usually turned on 24/7 in contrast to the laptop or PC, it starts adding up. Even an average consumption of only 8 Watts amounts to an annual power consumption of 88kWh for a router, as calculated by the provider Web.de. In general, it is worthwhile to have a look at the energy efficiency of new electrical devices and labels like the Blue Angel.
- Electricity: avoiding is better than saving
At the office, we don't have an influence on how the energy for light, heating, and the coffee corner is generated; at home we do. Have a look at your local providers of green electricity. Of course, the best power is the one you don't consume. Therefore, you should turn off all of your devices at the end of your workday as far as possible. The easiest way to do so is with a connector strip that can be switched off. Remove all unused chargers for cell phone and the like from the sockets as well. The standby mode requires more energy than you might think, straining both your energy balance and your wallet.
- Select your office equipment with purpose
You are thinking about a new swivel chair, standing desk or lamp? Pay attention to sustainable materials and – in case of a lamp – to interchangeable illuminants. The market is more and more dominated by lamps with permanently installed LEDs. Before you decide on the next purchase, ask yourself: Do I really need this? Every piece of electronics, every object, has a negative impact on the environment in its production and its disposal. Get inspired by alternatives: Can you purchase the object as second hand or recycled? This way, you can gift used things with a second life.
"Reduce, reuse, recycle" is one of the golden rules of sustainability. It shows that there is no single solution for more climate protection. Every measure on its own is a toothless tiger. But the sum of many small elements amounts to a big lever – even in home office.