The number of home-workers has been rising for years. Remote working and modern telecommunications have made it incredibly easy for a wide range of professionals to keep in touch with their colleagues and complete work-related tasks from anywhere in the world. And who wouldn't like to work from the comfort of their own home?
In the first quarter of 2014, a massive 4.2 million Brits worked from home, or the equivalent of 13.9% of all working adults, according to the Office for National Statistics. This is the highest the number of home-workers has been since records began.
If you work from home, you're probably aware that a huge proportion of your gas and electricity consumption results from business use. Even if you have a family or live with other people, you may be the only person at home throughout the daylight hours, and almost all of your daytime energy usage will therefore be a direct result of your home business.
But when you fill in your yearly tax return, you will likely find that HMRC does not view your energy use in the same way, and that only a small fraction of your gas and electricity bill is tax-deductible. You have to calculate the proportion of your home's floor space that your office or working area occupies, and you can only claim back this percentage, despite the fact that your central heating will have also been heating the rest of your home - including other work-essential areas such as the bathroom.
Homeworkers therefore face larger energy expenses than the rest of the population, and can only claim back a small proportion of these expenses. As a result, energy efficiency is arguably even more important for home-workers than it is for the general public!
Save money with a new boiler
A boiler replacement is one of the best ways for home business owners to reduce their overheads and cut their energy bills. Boilers represent at least half of the average household's annual energy bill, but older boilers can waste more than 30% of the energy they consume, whereas newer, A-rated boilers can be 100% energy-efficient.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, a typical semi-detached house in England, Scotland and Wales could save £305 every year by getting rid of a G-rated old boiler with no controls, replacing it with an A-rated condensing boiler, and installing thermostatic radiator controls, a programmer and a room thermostat.
Modern boilers are more efficient than their predecessors for a wide range of reasons, but the key technological improvement in recent years has been the introduction of condensing systems. All modern boilers are condensing boilers, which means they have a bigger heat exchanger than older models, and can recover more heat from the gases that are sent out of the flue.
Other benefits new boilers can provide to home businesses
The impact a boiler replacement can have on your bottom line can be far more nuanced than just the reduction in your energy bills.
· You could begin to advertise and market your business as being 'green', 'energy efficient' and 'sustainable'. This could encourage people to favour you over your competitors, even if your prices are slightly higher.
· Do you invite clients into your home? Wouldn't they prefer it if your house was warm and comfortable? A warmer home could actually improve your client retention rates - people will feel better about working with you if they feel better about your home.
· You will enjoy working more if you can put on your central heating without worrying too much about the cost. You might not realise how demotivating cold, unpleasant conditions can be - you could find your mood and your rate of work increases significantly if you don't have to miserably wrap yourself up in an outdoor coat when working indoors.
· And when the day is done, you can guiltlessly enjoy a long soak in a nice, hot bath.
Buying a replacement boiler
Buying and installing a new, energy-efficient boiler could cost you up to £3,000. This sounds like a lot, but you will be able to recover the cost of this after less than a decade when considering the energy-saving potential of the appliance and the ever-increasing cost of gas.
But if you think you'll struggle to afford such a large expense, there are a number of avenues worth exploring that could help you pay for a replacement boiler without breaking the bank.
· Green Deal - Green Deal Finance Plans and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund are funded by the government. The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund could provide you with a grant of up to £1,000 towards the cost of a new boiler, as well as other energy efficient home improvement grants. Loans secured through a Green Deal Finance Plan are repaid through instalments in your gas and electricity bills.
· Energy Company Obligation - This scheme is funded by major energy suppliers, and obliges them to pay for all or some of the cost of boiler replacements and insulation upgrades. However, you must receive certain means-tested benefits to be eligible for the scheme.
Author Bio: Kevin Burke writes about energy efficiency and other money-saving matters on behalf of 247 Home Rescue, a boiler cover provider based in Lancashire. Connect with them on Twitter and Google+!
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