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Serena Petrella works in her “green office” at her home.

Feeling a need to do something to help the environment, Serena Petrella and her husband Roger Shears turned their home offices into greener spaces.

They’ve replaced incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent ones, switched to refillable printer cartridges and use only recycled paper, said Petrella, 35, a PhD student and teacher at Carleton University.

“I’ve done the basic things,” she said. “The office is probably one of the parts of the house that are more difficult to make green.”

Petrella’s office is crammed into part of the guest room of the house the couple bought about a year ago. Her husband, who works for a software company, has a room that’s set aside specifically as an office.

The pair are saving money not just by using green products, but also by not using their cars to drive to work, helping to cut down on pollution. Petrella takes the train once a week from her home in Toronto to Ottawa, where she teaches sociology. Shears now leaves the car in the garage.

This strategy is “probably the biggest saving and probably the most impact for the environment,” she said.

The big thing now, said Petrella — whose home office is among about four million in Ontario alone — is “trying to figure out what else to do.”

Chris Winter, executive director of the Conservation Council of Ontario, has some tips on what products to look for to help reduce your environmental footprint.

“We’re asking people to think conservation — to save energy, use less paper and reduce waste and pollution,” he said.

Think of those things when you buy new products for your home office, he said.

Switching over to an energy-efficient computer, such as a laptop, is a good place to start, he said.

A laptop, which Petrella owns, takes “about one-eighth the power of a regular computer,” Winter said.

Purchase a flat-screen LCD monitor, he advised. It’s more energy efficient than the old-style cathode ray tube variety and will also take up less space — which can be precious in a home office.

Winter also recommended plugging office appliances into a power bar.

When you turn the bar off at the end of the day, it gets “rid of all that ... seepage of electricity that’s happening when you’re not working at your office,” he said.

The energy saving adds up to about eight kilowatt hours a month — about one per cent of the average home electricity consumption.

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