The global coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, including how we work. For millions of Britons, working remotely has become part of the every day – just as education, healthcare and our social lives have all been altered.
The Office of National Statistics reports that in 2019, 30% of the workforce had experienced working from home at some point. Around 1.7 million people – of the 32.6 million people in employment – were doing so regularly. In 2020, an additional 17% of the UK’s workforce did some homeworking, with that figure anticipated to rise by the end of the year. In some regions, like London, over 50% of the population has been working remotely.
As we look to the future, it seems clear that when the COVID-19 public health crisis finally abates, life will not go back to normal. We all know that there are challenging economic times ahead in many sectors – and many companies have already made clear that they intend for their employees to return to work in an office. Professional services employer Deloitte has already announced it will close regional branches and put at least 500 employees on home working contracts. They are likely to be the first of many.
Does working from home save you money?
Many people may have mixed feelings about working from home. For some, abolishing the daily commute will be welcomed as a game-changer for work-life balance. For others, the loss of office camaraderie and time outside of the home will be missed. But remote working has several practical ramifications – not least on the additional cost and responsibility, it places on employees to maintain a permanent home office.
How much it will cost you to work from home will depend to a large extent on your electricity and gas usage. Turning on the kettle, preparing food at home, powering your laptop and the heating through the day – all adds up to additional costs for your household while working remotely.
During summer months, your likely to see large savings by getting rid of the daily commute but things will start to balance in winter months as it gets colder and the nights draw in earlier. How much you save or spend depends on your habits and home efficiency.
How can I save energy whilst working from home?
There is some government support available if you know that you are required to pay for extra energy costs, equipment or services you can claim tax relief on certain items. If you are self-employed, you may already do this. Still, if not it is worth familiarising yourself with the expenses you can claim on – they include a proportion of your rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and any work-related payments. If you are employed what you can claim on is less extensive than for the self-employed, but certain things like the extra electricity use can be claimed. This can be done via PAYE or your annual tax self-assessment form. Calculating your additional costs may be difficult, but it is possible to claim a standard £6 tax relief rate.
We know that many of our customers are wondering how to save energy at home, particularly as energy efficiency remains part of the national conversation. A smart meter or energy monitor will help those curious to calculate what the extra time at home costs you in additional charges. But don’t be alarmed, you can reduce the impact on your household expenses.
The first piece of advice for home workers is to keep regular office hours. Studies conducted during 2020 have confirmed that due to the challenges of scheduling remotely and the loss of informal, face-to-face time with colleagues, many people have ended up working longer hours from home. Try to avoid the temptation to work beyond your contracted hours, and use the time at home as an opportunity to assess the adequacy of your energy-saving methods at home
There are many simple steps you can take to save energy working from home:
- Ensure your laptop, desktop, work mobile phone, and other office equipment is switched off when you are not using it. This will minimise the extra electricity consumption homeworking costs you.
- Pick a place in your home to work that is comfortable, warm and has good lighting. It will also help to keep your energy costs to a minimum.
- Have you upgraded to LED lighting? They are affordable and as much as 70% more energy efficient than traditional lightbulbs.
- Is your home well-insulated? If not, consider using curtains and block gaps in window and door panes. Reducing draughts makes it easier for your boiler to heat your home and reduces the energy you will pay for and use.
- Have you ensured that you turn radiators off in rooms that are not in use?
- Are you on the cheapest energy tariff?
A quick check of these simple things will make sure your energy costs don’t spiral over the winter months in particular, and there are more ideas here.
Working from home can be an excellent motivator to ensure that you are not on an expensive gas and electricity contract. Millions of families in the UK are overpaying for the energy they use. Generally, this is because they are on an expensive, standard variable tariff. Fixed-rate contracts typically provide the lowest prices. If you are going to be working during the night from home, it might be worth looking into an Economy 7 or Economy 10 contract which gives a lower unit price at night. Love Energy Savings are experts in the UK energy market and can help you instantly compare prices online and manage your domestic energy switch to a new supplier.