Remote working and teaching have really taken on new lives over the last year and a half. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many teachers across the country to have to educate their students from home.
There have been positives and negatives to e-learning. Some teachers struggle with keeping their kids engaged, but it has also proven to be effective in keeping people safe and distanced during the height of the pandemic. One of the benefits many people are touting about remote teaching is that it’s more energy-efficient. On the surface, it’s understandable why most people would assume that.
But, is it?
Sure, you’re not driving into work each day. But, if you’re having your lunch delivered via DoorDash, you’re still contributing to carbon emissions. Furthermore, you’re using more of your electricity each day than you would be if you were working in a school setting.
So, if you’re planning on teaching from home on a long-term basis, what can you do to be more energy-efficient? How can you do your part for the planet (and scale back your utility bills in the process)?
Invest in an Energy-Efficient Home
If you’re going to be spending most of your time in your home each day, it’s a perfect opportunity to make energy-efficient upgrades. You might consider building a new home or an addition to your current one with sustainable materials. But, if you’re happy where you are, there are still changes you can make to conserve energy, including:
- Installing smart home technology
- Upgrading your appliances
- Getting new windows
- Sealing your existing windows and doors
- Investing in new insulation
- Installing a new roof
While making upgrades to your home can cost money upfront, it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re going to be spending most of your time there. In the long run, these changes can have a positive impact on your utility bills, and you’ll conserve energy every day while you participate in e-learning.
If you have kids who are also learning from home in different areas of the house, these investments will “pay for themselves” even sooner. More people in the house means more energy use. Making energy-efficient changes with multiple people means big savings for you and a healthier environment for the future.
Change Your Daily Habits
Spending more time at home also means using more energy at home. You might have “normal” habits that you were used to when you had to go somewhere to teach in person. Those habits probably didn’t use much energy at the time. But, if you’re doing them frequently throughout the day, they can end up wasting more energy than you might realize. Some examples include:
- Taking longer showers
- Running the dishwasher more frequently
- Having more lights on all day
- Doing more laundry
- Charging more electronic devices
Even your eating habits can make a difference when it comes to your energy consumption. As mentioned above, it’s tempting to get your lunch delivered every day, especially if you only have a short time between your classes and don’t want to cook.
But, the carbon footprint of food delivery services is high. The average passenger vehicle that food delivery services use emits 4.6 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. On top of that, unless the restaurants you’re ordering from use recyclable or biodegradable packaging, materials like styrofoam take 500 years to decompose. Take the time to make your lunch every day, or meal prep at the beginning of each week so you have quick, easy options on hand whenever you need them.
By changing some of your daily habits while you’re at home, you’ll start to notice a big difference in how much energy you’re using and how much you were wasting before.
Set Up an Energy-Efficient Office
When you’re teaching from home, having a dedicated office space is a great way to stay motivated and productive. If it’s where you’ll be spending most of your day, do what you can to make environmentally positive changes. That could include things like:
- Using natural lighting as often as possible
- Upgrading to LED lights for lamps
- Turning off your computer monitor when not in use
- Opening the windows to let in a breeze
Additionally, take some time to “unplug”. It’s not only a good idea for your digital devices, but your well-being. Shut things down when you’re finished with work for the day and spend some time outside. Doing so can make you appreciate the environment even more, so your desire to live more sustainably will grow.
You might even end up teaching a lesson on it to your students.
Likely, e-learning is here to stay, at least in some parts of the country. There are plenty of aspects to it that keep teachers on their toes, including online safety, engagement, and technological issues. But, with a few changes, being energy efficient while you work doesn’t have to be something you stress over. Keep these ideas in mind while you’re teaching in an e-learning environment, and you can take pride in contributing to a healthier planet for your students.