Eco-friendly Education: 8 Ways to Green Your Study Spot

This week we are featuring guest blogger Garret Stembridge. 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 San Diego, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.

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As a college student, you probably don’t have the most luxurious space to do your schoolwork. But don’t let this cause you to overlook the potential that the “office” in the corner of your room has to be an eco-friendly study spot. As you cram for an exam while downing an energy drink you can also be saving energy by taking a few simple steps. Not to mention, you’ll be cutting down on your power bill, so maybe you can take a break from ramen noodles for a night or two.

Make sure your computer isn’t wasting any power
If you’re getting a new computer, find one that is labeled as Energy Star certified. These computers can save up to 65% on power usage (and you’ll also drain a lot less energy by purchasing a laptop instead of a desktop). Set your computer to go to sleep or shut down when it isn’t in use instead of going to a screensaver. Also, check out the power management settings on your computer and monitor to save some energy.

Purchase all-in-one electronics
If you need a printer, fax machine, copier and scanner, try to find a device that does a combination of functions. This will use less power and save a lot of room. Also, only print when you have to. Many professors will allow you to submit your assignments electronically. Instead of printing out that 20-page term paper, see if your professor will let you email it to them instead.

Smart power strips
You’ll want to plug all of your electronics into some sort of power strip that can be turned off, but you’ll ideally want to purchase a smart power strip. Smart power strips have a timer on them so you can designate when everything gets shut off. This prevents your electronics from acting as vampires and draining energy when you’re not using them. Some smart strips even have motion detectors that will cut off power to your appliances when you leave the room as well as battery backups that allow you to keep working even when the power is out.

Green office supplies
There are a multitude of other eco-friendly office supplies you can buy including:

  • Remanufactured printer toner cartridges
  • FSC-certified copy and multi-purpose paper
  • Desk accessories and furniture made from recycled material (such as a stapler made from recycled toner cartridges or a desk made from reclaimed wood)

Don’t leave chargers plugged in
When you’re done juicing up your laptop, phone or tablet make sure you unplug your charger. If you don’t, it will continue to drain energy even though nothing is connected to it.

Use rechargeable batteries
Use rechargeable batteries for as many devices as you can. They’ll cost you less in the long run and are better for the environment. If you do use disposable batteries make sure to properly recycle them.

Use lamps and natural light
During the day, open the blinds and use natural light. Sunlight has been shown to cut down on stress and increase productivity. At night, turn on a lamp instead of overhead lights. For both your lamp and your overhead lights, buy energy efficient LED light bulbs. They last much longer, as well.

Don’t overuse heating and cooling
Pay attention to where you place your furniture and make sure you don’t block any air vents. One advantage of living in a small space is that it takes a lot less to heat and cool but, even so, you should only resort to turning on the air when you absolutely have to. See what an open window and a fan will do before you turn on the AC or test out a space heater before cranking up the heat.

Do you have any other eco-friendly home office ideas to keep your schoolwork green?

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