Many of us will continue working from home for the rest of 2020 – which is bad news for our energy bills, even if it's great news for not commuting and seeing more of family. While transport costs will be cut for many workers who continue to work from home for the coming months, electricity and gas use will inevitably go up, especially as we begin the transition into autumn and winter.
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Brand new research by the Energy Helpline has revealed that, base on Ofgem average energy usage (2,000 kWh a year of gas and 2,900 kWh a year of electricity), those who will continue to work from home five days a week will see their winter energy bill go up by an eye-watering £107.18. Even working from home just one day a week will see a bill increase of around £22.
Fear not, though: while some increase in energy spending over the winter is inevitable, you don't have to shell out hundreds of pounds extra just because you've decided to continue working from home. Follow our energy saving tips, and you'll hardly notice a difference from previous years.
1. Improve your home insulation
If you're a home owner, you could be eligible for the Green Homes Grant scheme, which will go live in late September. You could get up to £5,000 (or £10,000 if you're on a low income) towards the cost of energy saving home improvements or the installation of a low carbon heating system in your home.
If you're renting, and the home you're living in is not energy efficient, encourage your landlord to apply. If you don't get anywhere, you can try temporary home insulation measures such as draught blocker cushions. They don't cost much, but could save you money by reducing heat loss from the property.
Find out more about home insulation in our guide.
2. Only heat the room you're using
It's as simple as turning off the radiators in rooms you don't use during the day. Most people who work from home have a designated space for doing so, even if it's not a separate home office. So – no point having the heating on in the bathroom/bedroom if you're in the dining room all day.
Oh, and learn how to bleed a radiator to make sure you're not wasting energy.
3. Avoid electric heaters
It can seem sensible to buy a small electric heater to use in your home office instead of turning on the central heating. Unfortunately, this is always a false economy: electricity is much more expensive than gas, and an electric heater will always turn out to be more expensive to run than a properly functioning gas central heating system.
4. Get your boiler serviced
Which brings us to the importance of having your boiler serviced every year, before it gets cold. The last thing you want is a breakdown mid-winter, but you also need to know that your boiler is running to its maximum efficiency. An inefficient boiler is always more expensive to run.
If your boiler performance can't be improved with a service visit, you may need to get a new one. Find out which boiler to buy in our guide.
5. Go for a walk/run before work
Starting the day with a walk or run is good for you in many ways, but also will help you save on bills. The reason you feel cold while working from home is because you don't move around much; getting your blood circulation going first thing in the morning will make you feel warmer, and the effect will last a good while, which means you'll need to use less heating.
6. Switch energy supplier
If you're taking all of the above steps and are still shocked by your bills, it may be time to switch your energy supplier. If you haven't switched in years, and/or are on a standard tariff, you're most likely overpaying – potentially by hundreds of pounds every year. Switching energy suppliers will cost you nothing and can be done in minutes.