Who doesn’t love the idea of watching the snowfall on a cold winter day from the comfort of your heated home? It’s almost magical, especially if you have a cup of good hot chocolate to warm your hands.
However, the magic quickly fades away when you see the heating bill. Home heating is usually the bill that weighs the heaviest on a family’s budget, as it often makes up 40% and more of what American families pay for utilities.
Plus, more and more families also have to heat up their home office, which, in some cases, is separated from the house.
Luckily, you won’t have to choose between paying the heating bill or freezing your fingers over the keyboard. There are things you can do to bring the bill down and still enjoy a pleasant work environment.
Here are a few ideas:
Choose The Right Room For Your Home Office
If you have the possibility to move your office around the house, choose a sunny room for the winter. In fact, setting up a home office changes with the seasons because you always need natural light (great for productivity).
So, if during summer you’d rather work in a room where sun rays are not too persistent, in winter you should be hunting them down. First of all, there are fewer sunny hours in winter, so you should take advantage of it as much as you can.
Second, even if there’s less sun, you can still get the room warmer if you allow the sun rays to get inside and warm up the objects inside.
In a nutshell, don’t be afraid to let the sun inside during winter. It will provide you with natural light and heat, so you don’t have to keep the heater on 24/7.
Turn Down The Thermostat
You don’t need to make it hot enough so you can feel comfortable moving around in a t-shirt when outside is snowing! Plus, high temperatures and dry air (from the heater) are not a good combination for your home office.
As a method to keep the workspace exciting and fit for high productivity, you have to find the ideal temperature for your brain to stay alert. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the ideal temperature for a regular office is around 71.6 F. However, each person is different, and you will most likely be in an office alone (no coworkers). This is why it’s best to find your own sweet spot.
Overall, simply adjusting the thermostat a few degrees down and adding on a sweater and some sweat pants can help around 10% of what you spend on heating each year. Plus, you’ll feel better, have fewer colds, and your work environment will improve!
Heat Your Office Separately
If you’ve set your home office in the garage or in a building that’s outside the house (but still connected), it may be a smart option to get a separate heating unit for it. A commercial heater is usually easy to install and doesn’t require as much maintenance and space as home heaters do.
Plus, if you’re heating the office separately, it will be easier to add the heating bill to the list of business expenses.
Check Out The Doors And Windows
A house loses heat mainly through its walls (around 35%) and through its windows and doors (around 25%). Now, when it comes to walls, this problem can be solved through insulation, but older homes and the ones that have poor insulation don’t have this advantage.
Also, the doors and windows are sources of heat loss, especially in old buildings where there may be cracks or insulation problems. Plus, wood furnishings tend to lose their insulation properties in time.
So, before the cold season comes, check your doors and windows and look for drafts, closing problems, issues with the hinges, and so on. Also, check your walls’ insulation and decide if it’s a good investment to redo it.
Lastly, if there are any air leaks, you can use special tape or insulating foam to cover them. Also, if cold air comes from under the door, you can block it with rolled-up clothes or towels. It’s not an ideal situation, but it will keep you warm without increasing the heating bill.
Optimize The Airflow In The Office
More often than not, the reason behind cold spots in the house (or your home office) is a piece of furniture that blocks the airflow. When this happens, the heat is not evenly distributed, which makes your heater work harder.
So, if you find your heating is uneven in the office, check to see if large pieces of furniture block any vents or radiators. If this is the case, move them out of the way and check the airflow.
And, while you’re at it, check the vents as well. Sometimes, the seal around the vent is not perfect, and this lets the heat out and cold air in.
Check Your Attic
Hot air rises toward the ceiling, but if you use a fan or simply by moving around, you can homogenize the overall atmosphere and keep it at a stable temperature. However, if your attic or rooftop is not insulated, the ceiling will be cold, which will turn the hot air that rises cold again.
This problem can be easily solved with insulation, and you don’t even have to rip off the walls (like it happens with exterior walls). You just need to find a specialized company that can recommend the right type of insulation for your situation and budget.
Overall, you get to recover the investment in two years or less, depending on how much you can save on your heating bill.
Your home office must be the ideal environment for work, so it’s a good idea to make a few long-term investments. But if the budget doesn’t allow it, try to plan for the future and apply a few tips and tricks to get you through the following cold season.