With Covid cases still high across the country, choosing whether to work from home or go back to the office won’t be an easy decision this winter. However, due to the current energy price hike, it appears many UK employees are now looking to return to the workplace amid concerns around the rising cost of working from home.
We surveyed UK employees who have worked from home in some capacity due to the pandemic, to find out if and how the current energy crisis has impacted their choice of working location, and what measures they are taking to save energy and money this winter.
Here’s what we found out.
How is the energy price hike affecting the nation?
The energy price hike has put a financial strain on many households, with Ofgem predicting that the average dual fuel customer paying by direct debit would see an increase of £139 on their annual energy bills compared to before the energy price cap increase.
The situation is expected to get worse in the new year, with experts predicting the energy price cap will increase by 30%.
Are Brits heading back to the office to save money?
Staggeringly, in our survey it was revealed that almost half (49%) of UK employees are worried about the increased cost of their home energy bills and this has “highly influenced” their choice of working location.
According to ONS data, over 11 million people (11,191,538) have worked from home in some capacity in last six months, with over eight million (8,331,478) working fully remotely and nearly three million (2,860,060) adopting hybrid working.
The ONS also reported a slow, nationwide transition back to the office, which according to our survey, is at least partially down to energy bill worries.
We asked Brits how much they would spend on commuting on average, to find out whether the savings on transport costs cancelled out the higher energy bills while working from home.
We discovered that the average Brit spends just £64 a month on commuting to work.
Next, we worked out how much it would cost to run essential appliances and heating throughout a typical working week. It turns out that the cost of running both essential appliances like your laptop, kettle, heaters and dishwasher during a normal five-day working week means that working from home can set you back £90.64 a month on average, or £1,087.68 per year.
So, even factoring in that there are no commuting costs while working from home, employees could still save a significant £27 a month, or £324 a year, by working from the office.
This means that Brits could be spending over £9 billion extra on energy bills collectively by working from home.
How are Brits watching their bills?
With the possibility of another working from home mandate on the horizon amid rising Covid cases, we asked Brits what measures they would be taking to keep their energy bills down.
Almost half (49%) of UK employees surveyed said they would be more mindful of their energy consumption overall due to the energy price hike, and one in five (22%) said they would not turn their heating at all on while working from home.
The regions where employees were the most mindful of energy consumption were the South East (51%), the South West (51%) and Scotland (49%).
How to save on your energy bills while working from home
Choosing energy-efficient heating solutions
Our survey has also shown that one in five (19%) are looking to invest in smart heating solutions amid energy bills concerns.
Smart electric radiators are a great alternative to traditional gas heating. They come with a range of features that can help keep your running costs to a bare minimum.
For example, smart electric heating solutions allow you to control temperatures and make sure unused rooms aren’t unnecessarily heated, while some even allow you to access your energy consumption statistics through an app, so you can keep tabs on the usage of every single heater throughout the year.
It’s much easier to do this if you have electric heating installed at home, as you will be able to control the temperature in each room and make sure unused rooms aren’t unnecessarily heated. Electric radiators can be managed individually with a range of energy-saving controls. 24/7 programming allows you to create custom heat schedules for each heater in your home, every hour of the day, seven days a week.
While this is harder to do with gas as it predominantly uses centralised control, meaning all of your radiators are managed collectively, choosing a lower thermostat temperature that still feels comfortable can be a good way to keep costs down.”
Claiming back costs through tax relief
You may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs (such as increased energy bills) if you’re required to work from home on a regular basis. This includes any time you have had to spend working from home due to Covid.
Unfortunately, you cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home. You also can’t claim on your whole bill – just the part of your bill that relates to your work. If you’re eligible, you may be able to claim for:
- Gas and electricity
- Metered Water
- Business phone calls, including dial-up internet access
You can claim for £6 a week from 6 April 2020 if you haven’t kept evidence of your extra costs. However, if you have kept evidence of extra costs you’ve incurred above your regular weekly bills, such as receipts, bills and contracts, you may be able to claim back the exact value of the extra costs that you’ve incurred while working from home.
About our research
We carried out a survey of 1,888 UK employees who had been working from home in some capacity this year.
We worked out the cost of running appliances and heating in a typical working week using the Average Unit Costs and Fixed Costs for Electricity in UK (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Ofgem, combined with average appliance wattages from Unbound Solar and our own Ecostrad electric radiators, using this formula.