7 simple ways to save energy when working from home

The coronavirus crisis means more of us than ever are working from home, which means we'll be using more energy each day, from running lights and laptops to boiling the kettle more often. Espcially with the clocks going back this weekend.

And more energy use means higher energy bills.

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More of us are working from home than ever before. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 37% of working UK adults did at least some work from home in 2020, up from 27% the previous year.

If you work from home, even just one day a week, you'll be using more energy each day, from running lights and laptops to boiling the kettle more often. And more energy use means higher energy bills.

That's why it's arguably more important than ever to make sure our homes and habits are as energy-efficient as possible. But it seems that not enough remote workers know how.

A survey from Giki, a social enterprise that aims to help people live a more sustainable lifestyle, has found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of employees have not received advice on how to reduce their energy costs. The study, which polled more than 1,100 employees from across the UK, also found that fewer than a quarter (23%) of employees who worked from home in the past year were asked how much energy they use at home by their employer.

Co-founder of Giki, Jo Hand, said: “Now more than ever, businesses have a role to play in providing advice and support to staff to reduce their own energy bills both on an environmental and a staff welfare level.”

This is where we come in. At UK Power, we’re here to help you save money on your energy bills. Bur before we get into our energy and money-saving tips, here's how you can claim tax relief for your job expenses while working from home.

How to claim tax relief for your job expenses while working from home

It's a little-known fact that can you can claim up to £6 a week back when working from home. But you can, and there are two ways to get your hands on some extra cash:

  • Get paid more - If you work from home, your employer can agree to pay you an extra tax-free amount as they have an agreement with the government. If your employer won't off this benefit, there is another way to get it.
  • Pay less tax - You can claim the money back from the governemnt yourself by paying less tax. You can sign up for this tax relief at the government website.

You don't need to provide receipts to claim, and it works out as a saving of £62.40 a year for basic rate taxpayers and £124.80 for higher rate taxpayers.

Now about those energy and money saving tips...

How to save energy when working from home

1. Avoid working longer hours

There’s a real temptation to work longer hours when working from home, not least because the time usually spent on the commute can now be spent at your laptop – meaning these extra hours get added to your electricity bill.

So try to work a bit smarter and fit more work into fewer hours – banning yourself from social media, cutting down the amount of time you spend checking emails, and stepping away from the screen on your lunchbreak, can all have a dramatic impact on productivity, meaning you might be able to cut an hour or so off your working day.

Not only will this save energy, it’ll free up more time for you to do something less boring instead.

2. Let natural light in

If you cram your home office into a tiny box room with little or no natural light, make the move to the brightest room in the house and throw the curtains wide open. Letting in natural light will not only stop you wasting energy and money on powering desk lamps and overhead lights, it might also improve your mood and boost productivity.

3. Wrap up warm

Working from home during the winter months can be a bit of a chilling experience, but try to resist the temptation to turn the heating up and instead put on some extra layers to keep warm. If you do need to put the heating on, try to limit the amount of time it’s on, and only heat the rooms you’ll be using.

4. Unplug any unnecessary devices

Distractions can be a big problem when working from home, particularly if you’ve got some particularly mind-numbing tasks to work through, so unplug anything that could act as a distraction, such as television sets, games consoles, and extra monitors.

Then unplug anything that is not in use, such as printers, phone chargers and anything that is sat there on standby and needlessly sucking up energy.

In addition, plugging into an energy saving power strip can help save energy as it regulates energy going to particular devices – for instance, it allows you to use your computer while cutting standby power going to your printer.

5. Use energy efficient equipment

If you’re using old office equipment, such as massive monitors, desktop PCs and printers, consider trading them in for more energy efficient models. And if you can ditch the desktop for a laptop, your new hardware will use about 80 less electricity and mean you can take your work on the move. Speaking of which…

6. Work away from home

One of the most effective ways to save energy when working from home is to not work at home at all. Working from a laptop means anywhere that has an internet connection can be used as an office – if you’re using a public network, always make sure you connect via a virtual private network (VPN) to make sure your connection is secure and data is safe. And if you're worried about missing out on important meetings, try a conference call or video conferencing to keep in touch with colleagues.

Working from your local coffee shop means you can get away from your usual surroundings to soak up the atmosphere, and electricity, somewhere else – just make sure all the money you’ll save isn’t then spent on coffee and cakes.

7. Switch to a better energy deal

Switching to a cheaper energy tariff is one of the simplest ways to save money – it may not necessarily help you save energy, but it can help you save up to £580 a year on your energy bills. Check out our home energy and business energy pages to see how much you can save.

If you’re concerned your energy usage might increase even more during the school holidays, check out 6 easy ways to save energy during the school summer holidays.

The growth of flexible working

Remote working is on the rise – the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 13.7% of the UK workforce now work from home in some capacity.

This infographic from Sage highlights the growth of flexible working in the UK…

infographic flexible working large

If you’re one of the 4.2 million people in the UK who currently enjoys the benefits of working from home, you’ll appreciate how handy it is to have such a flexible approach to office – enabling you to fit your work around your lifestyle, and all but eliminating the daily commute, saving both time and money.

Remote working can be beneficial for employers too, who can cut overheads by having fewer staff on site. The downside for you as an employee is these costs then fall into your lap, meaning the money you save on the commute can quickly be eaten up by your energy bills.

How do you save energy when working from home? Share your experiences and ideas with our energy-conscious community on  Facebook  or  Twitter .

Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.