Since March 2020, when the first UK lockdown came into force, those of us working in the energy industry have noticed a significant shift in the way that energy is consumed across the country. Overall energy use fell in the first lockdown as many businesses closed – but home energy use has risen by as much as 30% during the middle of the day (1). If you’re working from home, it’s likely that you’re using much more energy than you usually would be, especially with temperatures dropping. Using more energy at home will not only have an impact on your bills, it will also increase your personal carbon footprint.
Many companies have energy-saving measures in place, but you don’t have to have a business-sized budget to do the same within your own home. Here are some simple steps you can take to minimise your energy use, whatever your budget:
Many of the actions you can take to reduce the amount of energy you use don’t require you to spend a single penny – simply changing your behaviour (and convincing everyone else you live with to do the same) can make a real difference.
We know it’s tempting to turn your thermostat right up when it feels chilly, but turning your thermostat down by just one degree can save you around £80 per year2. You won’t notice the difference if you wear an extra layer – and while we’re working from home, we can all bend the dress code slightly! So put some extra layers on, and make sure you get up from your computer and move around throughout the day, which will get your blood flowing, keep you warm and break up the time you spend sitting in front of a screen. You can also cut your heating costs by only heating the rooms you need – so you might choose to heat the room you’re working in during the day, and your living room in the evening.
When it comes to electricity, we all know that we should turn off electrical items when we’re not using them, but it can be easy to forget this simple rule. You can save around £35 a year by turning off appliances (3) rather than leaving them on standby mode, so try to get into the habit of doing so. You should also try to work in a room with good natural lighting if possible, as this will reduce your reliance on lamps and overhead lighting – but if you don’t have a naturally well-lit room, make sure you switch off lights when you’re not using them. Another small change you can easily make is to only boil the water you need when you’re making yourself a tea or coffee, and ask others in the house whether they want one too so you’re boiling the kettle less frequently throughout the day.
SOLUTIONS FOR SMALL BUDGETS
If you can afford to, it’s worth spending some money to improve the energy efficiency of your home, as many solutions are fairly inexpensive and will make a difference to your energy bills for years to come.
For example, simply replacing all of your traditional bulbs with energy-efficient LED light bulbs will cost around £100 for the average-sized house and will help you to save around £35 a year on your energy bills (2). This means that they pay for themselves in less than three years, and as LED bulbs last for around 10 years you should quickly save much more than you spend upfront.
If your house is draughty, then you could be using more energy through heating than you need to, because the heat is escaping from doors and windows. Draught-proofing can really help to improve the warmth and comfort of your home, and you don’t need to pay a professional to do it (which typically costs around £200) (4). You can minimise draughts within your home by fitting draught excluders to the bottom of your doors, or sticking draught-proofing strips to fill the gap between a window and the frame. Even filling small cracks in your wall can help your home to feel warmer and enable you to turn the thermostat down.
If you own your home, you may be interested in making bigger improvements to the energy efficiency of your property – and now could be the ideal time to do so.
The Government’s Green Homes Grant enables homeowners to apply for vouchers worth up to two-thirds of the cost of installing some energy efficiency improvements, up to a total of £10,000 (5). If you’re eligible for the grant, you could receive a substantial contribution towards the costs of improving the insulation in your home, installing a low carbon heating system and/or heating controls, draught-proofing, and a number of other efficiency measures. This grant is available for measures installed by the end of March 2022 and you can find out more on the Government’s website.
Whether you decide to make energy efficiency improvements or not, you can still get help with your energy bills if your employer requires you to work from home during this time. Some forward-thinking employers, including Bryt, have recognised that working from home will increase their employees’ energy bills, and so are contributing to these costs within employees’ paychecks. If your employer isn’t contributing to your costs, you can still claim tax relief of £6 a week from the Government – there’s advice on how to do this here (6).
If you found the tips in this article useful, why not send it to the rest of your team? By sharing, you can help your colleagues to keep their energy bills low and ensure your organisation’s carbon footprint remains low, wherever you’re working.