Managing Home Office Energy Consumption While Staying Productive

Posted on: 29 July 2017

Contracting, hourly wage, and salaried work have all embraced telecommuting/work from home productivity in one way or another. Home offices powered by at least one computer, an internet connection, and supporting office equipment such as printers and scanners are usually necessary, but how efficient is the setup for a home electrical bill? An overview of how home office electrical concerns are managed can help you figure out if you need to make electrical infrastructure changes, equipment changes, or a bit of both.

Understanding Computer Power Consumption

Although computers have become an instrumental, powerful, helpful, and sometimes intrusive part of modern life, they haven't been in homes for that long. In the 1990's when companies such as Gateway, Dell, eMachines, HP, and many others joined the ranks of Apple and IBM, many people made uninformed decisions about how much power a computer actually draws.

Conserving energy to save the environment (or your power bill) is great, but a draconian rule of unplugging everything when not in use is hardly efficient. Instead of just assuming that certain devices are power problems, it's best to know what's actually being consumed.

The power supply for any device is the limit to power consumption. A device and draw--or request--up to the power supply's maximum capacity. On desktop computers, televisions, and printers, you can usually find a label that shows the device's wattage.

In 2017, desktop computers and laptops run a range of roughly between 400w (watts) to around 1000w. There's no set number for what the average computer needs; wattage demands depend on the types of parts inside the system. The basic home office computer is no different from a personal computer and would rarely need to go over 600w, while many gamers either use component calculators or go for the highest possible out of pride.

It's important to know that this is the maximum safe power consumption, not the actual power consumption. Programs such as Microsoft's Joulemeter can calculate a close, accurate count of power consumed, but this works best with a laptop or mobile device. This is because mobile device batteries have built-in sensors to calculate the battery's remaining power and how much is being used, which is what gives users the "percent left" reading.

For desktop computers, calculation is a bit harder. For all non-computer devices lacking convenient apps, you'll need a professional to help you understand actual usage.

Measuring Efficiency Without Apps

There are meters available for measuring each individual device connected to your outlets. This task is easier when you don't have a lot of devices to connect in the first place, but can be hectic when you want to gauge a fully-equipped home with a high tech advantage.

Instead of purchasing a bucket-full of meters or testing each device individually and hoping that your device is accurate, get an electrician on the job. The convenience is helpful, but even if you'd rather do the testing on your own, there are some things an electrician will do better.

Behind the walls, there is an entire network of wiring that needs to be tested as well. In a best case scenario, you'll have a wiring layout less than a decade or two old with best practices and no frayed wires. In many cases, some affordable repairs and wiring changes can be made, but you need to make sure that your home doesn't have heavy damage that draws too much electricity.

Contact an electrician, such as from Craftsman Electric Inc, to get a home energy management consultation, and ask about training along with repairs to understand how your home works.