With winter here and temperatures set to plummet, Remote’s research found that three in four (75%) UK employees are concerned about the rising cost of energy bills in the upcoming months.
With only 16% of UK companies offering to contribute to employees’ electricity bills when working from home due to the cost of living crisis, the number of people searching for tips on keeping warm without turning on the heating has increased by 233% since last year in the UK.
To help remote or hybrid workers this winter, Remote’s team of global HR experts have spoken to their network of remote workers to reveal the best tips for reducing working from home costs.
Claim tax relief for working from home
If you work from home, you may be entitled to £6 per week tax relief from 6th April 2020, although the final relief is based on your tax rate. While it may not seem like a lot of money, this can quickly add up over time and is something employees should take advantage of. To claim, visit the website.
Renegotiating your car insurance
Liz Edwards, editor-in-chief of Finder, shared a great tip with Remote that many people may not have thought of before: “If you used to drive to work every day but are now working from home, you might be able to lower the premium on your car insurance.”
“Try calling your insurance company to let it know that you no longer drive to work every day and have reduced your monthly mileage. If you’re driving less and keeping your car parked at home during the day rather than in a shared car park, there’s a good chance you could reduce your premiums.”
Layer clothing instead of turning up the heating
It may be tempting to turn the heating on for a quick boost; however, it is much more expensive to heat your whole flat or house than putting on an extra pair of socks or jumper.
An alternative option is to put a blanket or duvet over your lap while sitting at your desk or even invest in a heated blanket. Based on the UK’s average electricity price of 34p/kWh, a 100W electric blanket would cost just 3.4p per hour.
If you were to use the electric blanket for one hour every working day, it would cost you 17p per week, or £8.84 per year.
Switch broadband provider
Many companies incentivise customers with offers to switch providers. This often includes a great broadband connection at a discounted price.
However, many will add additional incentives, such as a Spotify premium or BT Sport or Sky subscription. Take a look at what you currently pay, as switching may be worthwhile to get more bang for your buck.
Double-check your electricity plan
Remote spoke to Matilda, owner of the Instagram account A Millennial Saver, who suggests checking your electricity plan, as you can sometimes pay less for usage at night. If this is the case, and your home isn’t noise-sensitive, plan to wash in the evening rather than during the day.
Create a savings pot
Liz Edwards also suggests creating a savings pot to help budget your money. She commented: “Try setting aside the money you would have usually spent going into the office to help you save. This could include the money you would have spent commuting, eating out, buying coffee, or even buying work clothes. By setting this aside each week or month, you could have a good savings pot by the end of the year (or use it to help offset heating costs).”
As the months draw colder, most people have started to put their heating on for a few hours during the day. First, however, it’s essential to ensure you’re heating efficiently. For example, if you have radiators underneath your windows and long curtains, ensure you tuck the curtains behind the radiator so you trap the warm air inside your home.
In addition, keeping doors closed further helps to trap warm air in rooms. Finally, if you can feel a draft coming from your windows, consider rolling up a towel and placing it on the windowsill to trap the heat in the house again.
Another suggestion Sheryl Miller, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant at Reboot Global, shared is to “invest, if you’re able to, in an infrared panel for the room you work in. These are low energy and heat small spaces very well.”
Avoid using standby mode – turn electronics off when not in use.
Today, our homes are more connected than ever, and electric devices are used throughout the day. However, according to a British Gas study, leaving appliances and devices on standby mode can cost households £147 per year.
The research is based on 13 appliances, so this estimate is likely even higher for most people. Among the most expensive items to leave on standby are TVs (£24 per year), microwaves (£16.37), and computers (£11).
Sheryl Miller recommends: “Using a smart meter, if you have one, to switch off unnecessary appliances and switches when not in use. If you don’t have a smart meter, you can invest in smart plugs to switch things off remotely at the simple touch of an app.”
43% of employees believe working from home is more cost-effective than commuting to the office
Remote asked a few questions to get employees’ and businesses’ thoughts about the cost of living this winter.
Due to the cost of living crisis, more employees are expected to lean more towards working from home, with 43% of employees believing this is the cheaper option.
Remote’s survey also found that a quarter (25%) of UK employees stated that their employer is letting them work from home more frequently due to this.
Amanda Day, director of People Enablement at Remote, commented on how employers can support their remote staff this winter: “As prices continue to rise, and the prospect of a recession looms, many people are worried about the future.”
“As an employer, it’s essential to check in with your team and ensure they feel supported. However, not everyone may be comfortable sharing their struggles, so creating a survey that allows employees to share any concerns anonymously could help you get a clear understanding. In addition, a survey will enable you to ask team members how best to support them during this time.”
“The road ahead is uncertain, so company leaders must find ways to demonstrate their support and understanding. For example, many companies have implemented mandatory in-office days; however, this may cause stress to people who have an expensive commute or must deal with childcare on those days (mainly when poor weather contributes).”
“Show compassion during these times to help your employees feel supported and promote a positive working environment.”