Heat Pumps: Residential Carbon Emissions in the Work from Home Era

Father and his daughter are using computer in the kitchen at home

When the world went virtual at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 69% of working Americans brought their jobs home. Two years later, work from home has graduated from a temporary solution to a permanent change for many.

Effects of the remote work movement

The work-from-home trend has impacted businesses and individuals differently, but the positive benefits are undeniable. Most importantly, the shift helped curb the spread of COVID-19. With fewer vehicles on the road during typical commuting hours, there’s also been fewer accidents and a reduction in carbon emissions.

Another pandemic-related gift to the climate? The reduced need for lighting, heating and cooling allowed many commercial office spaces to cut their energy usage significantly. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reported a 12 percent drop in commercial energy usage in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same timeframe from 2016-2019.

Residential energy use, however, increased by 10 percent. NBER’s study found significant changes in residential electricity consumption patterns since the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, electricity use spiked in the morning as people got ready for work, fell during the day, and rose again in the evening. Since the pandemic, residential consumption has increased later in the morning and is 16 percent higher than pre-pandemic usage during work hours.

The increased electricity use was also paired with higher carbon emissions for homes relying on oil-, propane- or gas-fueled heating systems. Although researchers are still measuring the true environmental impact of remote work, the logic is clear: more time spent at home equals more use of the home’s systems and appliances, leading to more residential carbon emissions.

What can homeowners do?

Investing in smart energy choices for your home is now more important than ever.

An all-electric variable-capacity heat pump (VCHP) from Mitsubishi Electric delivers the superior comfort and efficiency you want if you’re spending eight hours more of your day at home. Heat Pumps operate up to 40 percent more efficiently than conventional heating and air-conditioning systems.

Conventional systems cycle on and off whenever the temperature in your home drifts from your set point, expending significant energy each time. Our VCHPs’ INVERTER-driven compressor technology allows the system to run continuously, using the minimum amount of energy needed to maintain your desired temperature set point.

Another way Heat Pumps improve your home’s energy usage is through zoning. If you’re working from home, take a minute to think about how you heat and cool your space. Is your whole home being conditioned all day even when you’re only using your office? Heat Pumps allow homeowners to define comfort zones within their homes. Each outdoor unit connects to up to eight indoor units, each with independent temperature set points. You can keep your office area at your preferred temperature, while other zones within the home are set back during the day or even turned off altogether.

As the world reopens, many professionals have adopted hybrid in-office/work-from-home schedules. Early studies warn, “emissions could rise as companies keep powering traditional offices to provide flexibility and some workers take on further, albeit less frequent, commutes.”

Whether you’re working from home full-time or adopting a hybrid schedule, making your home’s energy efficiency a priority can help you offset the environmental toll of your workspace. With an energy-efficient VCHP, you’ll minimize your home’s energy use while staying comfortable in the process.

For more information on our VCHP options, visit MitsubishiComfort.com.

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