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How to save money while you're working from home

People shifting from the office to working from home have realized that their costs have increased. Here are some tips to help you take back control.

Since COVID-19 has driven people away from the comfort of their office to the comfort of their home, some have noticed a downside. In fact, one of the top 10 working from home (also learning from home) questions I've been getting is not, "how do I cut my hair at home?" but, "how do I cut my power bill?"

Yes, all that heating and lighting and gadgets draw power. And now you're responsible for their care and feeding.

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I've been keeping an eye on gadget power consumption for many years, and while it's impossible for me to know what someone's situation is, I can offer some generic, blanket advice on how to save power.

Just a note: You're likely going to make the biggest savings from the first two categories. Beyond that, it's very dependent on what you have in your home and how you use things.

Before you start making changes, I suggest knowing what your baseline is and what it was before you started working from home. Also, be aware of how usage changes over the year as you cycle through summer and winter.

Lighting

If you're still burning incandescent lightbulbs, swap them for LED lightbulbs now. If you are using the CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs, swap them out for LED. If you have fluorescent tubes, these too can be converted to LED (although this may or may not be a job you want to take on.

Every incandescent lightbulb you replace with an LED lightbulb will slash its power consumption by up to 90%.

Do this across the board, and keep some spares, as this will prevent the creep back of incandescent bulbs.

This makes a noticeable difference.

Heating/cooling

Heat/cool only the rooms you are using, and keep doors shut between rooms.

Switching to a smart thermostat can help you better fine-tune your HVAC for optimum performance, as well as helping you prevent wastage.

Gadgets

While it's true that the older the gadget, the more inefficient it is, there's not an awful lot of savings to be made throwing out old gear and replacing it with new stuff.

I might make an exception over older TVs and monitors, but you do have to factor in the cost of buying new over the cost of paying to feel the old hardware the power it needs.

As for tuning power management on computers and the like, while it makes a difference for an office set up where there are dozens or even hundreds of computers, playing with these settings in a home situation doesn't achieve much.

No, there isn't a magic "save bags of cash" setting on PCs. Sorry.

Just turn your PC off, along with any displays, when not in use.

As for other things, keep an eye out for big loads that you have on for extended periods, such as coffee pots and heaters.

Measure how much power you are using

Knowledge is power! I've seen people make significant savings just by knowing how much power they are using. Rather than making a few technical changes, this results in people developing batter power habits.

If your power company offers a 'smart meter' that gives you an instant reading of usage -- along with the costs -- this can be a good incentive for reducing power usage because you get to see in real-time how much you are using.

If you can't get a smart meter, then monitor your usage over a few weeks. It's not as immediate, but you should see trends.

"Power savers"

You may have come across "power savers" on sites such as eBay. They're junk. They don't save power, and could waste a lot setting your house alight.

Got any other tips? Feel free to share them!