How to Make Your Home-Based Business Greener

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Tuohy
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Taking steps to make your business “greener” is a win/win. It can help your bottom line, improve your company’s image and promote a healthier planet. As the owner of a home-based business, you have an advantage over most companies: Your carbon footprint is already smaller thanks to cutting out a daily commute and the expense of heating, cooling and lighting an extra space. Use this head-start wisely and be sure to implement a “Green Policy,” even if you’re your only employee.

A Green Policy is a simple list of the things you do or plan to do in your office to achieve a more sustainable environment. Write it down and promote it on your website and in your company brochure to demonstrate to your clients and vendors the efforts you’re making. Here are some steps you can take and policies you can implement to make your home-based business a green one.

Be Energy Efficient

Reducing your energy consumption is one of the easiest and most effective ways to go green. While you should consider all areas your business consumes power, the simplest place to start is with lighting and equipment:

Lighting

Replace burnt out bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs or lighting solutions.

Install dimmer switches—dimming a light substantially reduces its energy drain.

Install presence or motion sensors to turn lights off when the room is unoccupied. “Smart lights” can also be controlled remotely, preventing wasted energy. You can turn off the lights from the road when you forgot to do it as you left the house.

Power

Plug all your electronics into easily accessible power strips so you can power them down at the end of the day with one button. This cuts down on the “vampire power” that drains from electronics in standby mode.

Another option is smart plug. These let you schedule a time to turn the device off and on automatically, so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself.

Always buy EnergyStar rated appliances whenever you replace or purchase new equipment. Even your home office fridge should be as energy efficient as possible.

Climate

Install a smart thermostat that reacts to your presence in your home office, so it will keep your space comfortable when you’re there and save energy when you’re not.

If you work alone, consider investing in a good desktop fan so you can stay cool without using an air conditioner to cool the whole space.

If you set up a suite of energy-saving smart devices, you can control all of them through a central smart home hub and make them all work together for maximum efficiency. Your local internet or cable provider may be able to help you set it up.

Go Paperless

Offices, even home offices, are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to wasting paper. Cut down how much you use with these tips and make sure the paper you use has a high percentage of recycled content. Also try these tips:

Adopt a cloud-based filing system to reduce paper as well as boost efficiency, as you can access your files from anywhere. Services such as Dropbox, Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s OneDrive are good options.

Invest in a good desktop scanner, so you can put every piece of paper that crosses your desk right into the recycling bin, once it’s been scanned and uploaded to your filing system.

Switch to paperless billing for all your vendors and billing systems.

Learn how to use PDFs. When you go to print something from a web browser or email most computers now have an option to “print as a PDF.” This saves your file in a readable “Portable Document Format” that you can put into your cloud-based filing system rather than print it.

When you have to print, use recycled paper and set your printer to use both sides of the page.

Reduce Water Use

This is an easy one to overlook in a home office, but it’s a crucial one. Here are some tips:

Install WaterSense Certified low-flow faucets in your office bathroom (and the rest of your home while you’re at it).

Replace older toilets with WaterSense Certified ones and cut in half the amount of water used in every flush.

Keep our waterways cleaner by cutting out any chemicals you use to clean your office. Instead, choose “green” VOC-free cleaning products.

If you have an irrigation system for your outdoor space, install a smart sprinkler controller, which conserves water by dynamically adapting its watering schedule to the weather. It won’t run before, during or after any significant weather event, but will still keep your space green and healthy.

Choose Local

Use local resources for your business whenever possible. Choosing local cuts down on carbon emissions from shipping/travel time and helps boost your local economy. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Reduce your own travel time by using video conferencing and communication channels like Slack when you need to communicate more effectively with customers and vendors who aren’t nearby.

Institute a local-first purchasing policy—you’ll save money on shipping costs and reduce the carbon footprint of your business.

Practice green procurement by sourcing goods or services from companies with their own Green Policy in place. Look for businesses that promise to help reduce waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy and water, use renewable energy sources and not to use toxic substances or pollute the environment.

Whatever steps you take to improve your home-based business’s eco-cred will be beneficial, so don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up. Just look around your home office and consider what you use every day. Then consider how that product could be more efficient. For example, if you use a wireless keyboard and mouse powered by batteries, invest in rechargeable ones. Once you take that first small step and realize the benefits you can get from it, you’ll quickly want to do more.

Image from Shutterstock

Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and editor covering the intersection of sustainability and technology for Xfinity?Home. She writes about the smart home, consumer tech, small businesses, and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazine and online publications.


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