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Keep Your Home Business Green

Keep Your Home Business Green
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    Earth Hour has come and gone for 2008, and it was an easy opportunity for people who don’t normally think about their environmental footprint to do something about it. Apparently it was quite successful, with local utilities such as EnergyAustralia claiming that energy consumption for that hour was 10.2% less than usual.

    But, while Earth Hour is a great awareness raising campaign and does provide some relief against our constant pummel on nature, it doesn’t solve the huge problems we’re facing. Even if you’re one of the few who still think that global warming is an elaborate prank, there’s no arguing the fact that looking after our one and only planet is important—after all, there’s nowhere to go if we kill this one.

    In that vein, I’ve written up a few greening tips you can implement quickly and without drastically altering your life. They won’t solve all the problems the environment faces either, but perhaps they’ll buy us a bit of time while the guys in lab coats think up something better or politicians catch up with reality.

    Take the “Earth Hour” concept daily

    It wasn’t really that hard to go without lighting, was it? If you work from home, then chances are you’re still plugging at it when it’s dark and chances are you’re using plenty of lighting. Switch them off and keep going—if you do most of your work on a computer, then it’s just as easy as with the lights on. That is, as long as you can touch-type!

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    Remember to choose a time when turning all your lights off actually makes a difference—in other words, when it’s dark. If the sun is still up, even at twilight, then you won’t make nearly as much of a difference.

    Go Paperless

    While paper is a renewable resource, trees are being consumed at a non-sustainable rate. The manufacture of ink is a particularly nasty business for the planet’s health, too. Stop printing everything—store your documents on your hard drive, and use services like Google Docs.

    You can also invoice online—there are a variety of options, including the simple ones: an email invoice, or PayPal’s request money feature, or the more ‘professional’ options, such as Blinksale or Zoho’s new invoicing feature.

    Many banks and utilities also allow you to receive bills online these days—find out if yours do.

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    Tweak Your Computer’s Power Saving Settings

    Most home office dwellers, web-workers and freelancers have all sorts of powered devices running all the time. Computers, modems, routers, printers and scanners on standby, speakers, and so on. For some of those gadgets, it’s as easy as flicking them off when you’re not using. Remember, the modem or router can go off when you go to bed, unless you have a habit of surfing in your sleep.

    But computers are such a central part of our work that it’d usually be impractical to turn them off and on all day long. If we’re ducking out for five or ten minutes, it’s easy to save power without spending another five or ten minutes shutting down and booting up.

    All good operating systems have power saving settings that control the consumption of the monitor, the hard disk and the computer itself. Head in to your power saving settings and have the computer switch off the monitor or even go to sleep altogether after five minutes of inactivity.

    Of course, you can tier it for practicality; after five minutes, the monitor goes off, and after half an hour, the system goes to sleep. Easy.

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    If you can’t be bothered setting up power saving, you can always download this screen saver that reminds you to turn your monitor off when the computer’s idle.

    Recycle Devices

    Computers, phones and some other gadgets have almost become disposable items for some of us; we use it for a while, until a new model comes out and it’s out with the old and in with the new.

    If they’re still working, it’s always a good opportunity to make a bit of cash on eBay or just hand the item down to your punk sibling or one of your kids. But often those upgrades occur because the old device is no longer working. Greenpeace says that we generate about 4,000 tonnes a year throwing this stuff out.

    Many companies are offering a great recycling solution that you can and should take advantage of. Apple and Dell are well-known computer manufacturers who offer the service. There are similar programs for cell phones—I’m not sure what’s available in America, but just the other day I saw a phone-recycling bin outside a cell phone store.

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    It’s so easy, there’s really no excuse for not recycling your devices.

    Use Proper Attire to Keep Work Comfortable

    Working in your boxer shorts is almost a cliché for work-from-home types, even if it’s freezing outside. Put on some more clothes and turn down the heating. Alternatively, in the summer, don those boxer shorts (until you have a meeting, of course) and take some strain off the air conditioner.

    Keep Water Use to a Minimum

    You work and live at home, so one way you can reduce your impact while you work at home is to minimize your use of water, and to fix leaks around the house. Since the repairs are for your place of work, it’s quite possible you’ll be able to write them off as a business expense (depending on your local laws).

    If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph, but if you’re really committed to reducing your environmental impact you could always adopt the old proverb as your mantra. If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.

    Remember, there’s another benefit in many of these tips—you save money; no paper and ink costs and a smaller balance on your electricity and water bills. At the end of the day, minimizing expenses is something all businesses—whether they’re based at home or not—can do with.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on March 24, 2021

    8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

    8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

    We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

    On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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    Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

    1. Smart Door Locks

    A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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    2. Smart Kitchen Tools

    Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

    3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

    If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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    4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

    These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

    5. Nest Thermostat

    This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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    6. Smart Lighting

    Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

    7. Google Chromecast Ultra

    Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

    8. Canary

    This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

    Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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