hand-holding-plantGoing green can seem like an overwhelming project for smaller businesses without a lot of capital or infrastructure. But just because you work out of your house, whether in a spare room, on your laptop at your kitchen table, or even in a hammock out in your backyard, it doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to making our world more environmentally friendly by thinking about energy efficiency. In fact, you can kill two birds with one stone by improving your living space and workspace at the same time!

One good place to look for tips on saving energy is your local power company. The U.S. Department of Energy also offers a variety of hints as to how to cut down on waste, from the obvious, like turning off machines when they are not in use, to the more technical, including what types of electronics to buy and how to avoid “vampire” power drains.

Here are some particularly popular tips for creating savings, both personally and for the environment:

Turn Things Off When You’re Not Using Them!

There are a few popular misconceptions that make it harder for people to save energy in their home offices. For example, it is actually not true that screensavers reduce energy usage or that it is better to leave equipment running than to keep turning it on and off. The simplest way to reduce energy costs and waste is simply to turn things off when you aren’t using them, especially computers, televisions, stereos and DVD players, not to mention overhead lights and table or counter lamps!

Avoid Vampire Drain!

However, with some appliances, even turning them off when not in use is not necessarily enough. Many people are unaware that even when electronics are switched off, they can continue to use energy – this is known as a “vampire” power drain. Chris Stewart, the Senior Communicator for the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory points out here that appliances “using phantom loads” include many that most of us might not consider, from coffee makers to rechargeable toothbrushes!

There are a few ways to avoid this. The simplest is to actually unplug appliances from the wall instead of merely turning them off, especially chargers for other devices. Another is to plug all such equipment into power strips and then to turn off the power strip in order to truly cut off the power when the equipment is not in use. This is especially helpful when it comes to larger devices like computers and televisions, but also applies to smaller ones like kitchen appliances.

Make Good Choices When Making Purchases

In addition, to reduce your overall energy usage, make good environmentally conscious choices when making purchases in the first place. For example, laptops use less energy than desktop computers. In addition, when buying smaller products that use battery power, look for those that will take rechargeable batteries, so that you don’t have to keep buying and disposing of regular batteries.

Additionally, look for the ENERGY STAR label, especially when buying computers, in order to create great savings on your power bill. This label is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and means that the products both save energy and money. An index of Energy Star products can be found here (for homes) and here (for businesses).

Use Good Common Sense

There are so many small steps it is possible to take in order to be energy-efficient. For example, lighting is a huge expense in most homes, especially when the owner works there as well. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs and place directional lamps where they are needed, instead of keeping the overhead lights burning morning, noon and night.

You can also weatherize your home office, getting an inspection by your local power company and adding insulation where needed, in order to keep energy from escaping. Being conscientious about maintenance can also help you avoid costly repairs to heating or cooling equipment. Even something as small as turning down the heat by a couple of degrees in the winter and turning down the air by a couple of degrees in summer can result in big savings.

What steps do you plan to take to improve your home office’s energy efficiency?

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Chicago, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.

Halloween was just recently, and in the spirit of entrepreneurship (and in Halloween, I suppose), I decided to carve a pumpkin in memory of Steve Jobs. I’m sure by now you’re aware that Steve Jobs had recently passed away, and while reflecting back on technology and seeing how far advanced we have come with all the gadgets we have these days, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show my appreciation, and my artistic abilities.

My first ever pumpkin carving, as shown on the right, lit up. Seriously, my first ever.

That was one of the highlights of October for me. I had a lot of fun doing it and enjoyed getting a little messy. The end result was totally worth it. Unfortunately, it didn’t last forever. They never do.

Looking back on last month’s blog posts, while they may not be as epic as my pumpkin carving, I’m sure you you’ll agree that they’re worth reading. At least I hope so. 😉

Let’s take a look at them.

October 2011 Blog Posts on ReplaceYourSalary.com

What is a ‘Call to Action’ and Why Should You Have One?

Threaded Comments: A WordPress Plug-In Every Blog Owner Should Utilize

5 Tips to Help You Save Money

6 Top Ways to Save Money at Home

Getting More Clicks: Affiliate Links in Images More Profitable than Links in Text

5 Ways to Fund Your Retirement Income

5 Ways to Recognize Work from Home Scams

Tools to Expand Your Home Business Without Breaking the Bank

Akismet Problems: Why You Should Choose an Alternative Blog Comment Spam Solution

Google+: Is the Demise of Facebook Near?

Blog Posts Around the Web

Here are some blog posts I’ve found from other bloggers I follow that I hope you will find helpful. I encourage you to take some time to read these as well.

Every month, Deneil Merritt posts an income report, similar to the ones you’ll find here. What’s different about his income reports is that they include 30 other blog income reports as well, which includes mine each month. Definitely worth checking out and seeing how other blogs are doing in the industry.

Daniel Scocco points out some important no-no’s when emailing a blog owner to pitch a guest post. I find it quite comical as I every now and then get something similar to the one he mentions in the post. If you ever want to get accepted as a guest blogger, you definitely want to read Daniel’s post and take some notes.

If you’ve been following any of the Occupy Wall Street protest (I haven’t) or at least know what it’s about (I do), David over at SEO-Writer has a pretty funny Occupy parody called Occupy Google. It’s a video interview (sound only) and worth checking out if you want a good laugh, or if Google is treating you unfairly and you demand that your website is ranking in the top 10! Ha!

That’s all for now, folks.

The following is a guest post by Jo Lewis. If you would like to write for this blog, please check out the guidelines here.

Summer’s come and gone, and even the unseasonable warmth of an Indian summer has arrived and vanished in a blink of an eye. Like it or not, autumn is here, and keeping your family warm and cozy is of course a huge priority for many people up and down the country. This is especially true, as the temperature drops and the bills rise towards the build up to Christmas.

Remember, pennies are tight, but saving money shouldn’t mean going without. With that philosophy in mind, here are 6 unique and creative methods for saving money on your winter energy bills so you can put your pennies to better use. Enjoy….

1. Insulating Your Property

Did you know that many houses lose around 75% of their heat energy through poor insulation? Make sure you keep the heat inside your house by insulating your property this autumn. It may be expensive to do but it will save you plenty of money in the long term.

2. Use A Clothes Line

Next time you go to put wet clothes in the tumble dryer, why not opt instead to use the clothes line outside? Hanging your soaking wet garments on a washing line and letting them dry naturally is a great way to save money. Honestly, you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ll save over the course of a year.

3. Is Your Kettle Half Full?

When you next fancy a refreshing brew, try and fill up the kettle halfway and save yourself both water and money. At work, we follow this money saving tip to the “tea.” Excuse the pun. Believe it or not, our company’s business electricity bills have dropped dramatically thanks to this clever money saving tip!

4. Clothe Pots And Pans

Another great money saving tip I learned in the kitchen is to cover pots and pans with a rag when cooking, as this will allow them to boil a lot quicker, and so you’ll use less gas or electricity, which means less money spent!

5. Use One Hob When Cooking a Meal

You’ll be amazed by how much energy and money you’ll save by cooking your meals on just the one hob. The downside to this is that it will take you longer to cook the meal, but just think of how much enjoyment you’ll have eating your food, knowing the financial savings you are making!

6. Keep The Fridge Door Shut

We’re all guilty of doing this one. You know what I’m talking about. Yes, that’s right, forgetting to shut the fridge door. This is a common custom many people fall in to, and a fridge door left open for long periods of time can waste plenty of electricity as it takes a lot of energy to it cool down again.

There you have it, six great frugal tips to save you a small fortune over the working year. If you enjoyed these tips, please feel free to try them yourself. If you have any finance and saving tips yourself, why not add a few to the list?

About the Author:

Jo Lewis works part time for uSwitchforbusiness.