Why rising energy bills will kill the work from home dream

Work From Home Energy Bills
Work From Home Energy Bills

Working from home will add more than £2,500 a year to already soaring energy bills, analysis has found.

Home workers are likely to be driven back to the office en masse this winter, experts have suggested, because of the added cost. Ofgem, the energy regulator, confirmed on Friday its energy price cap would jump by 80 per cent to £3,549 per year in October.

New forecasts from analysts Cornwall Insight also revealed that bills would rise to £5,400 in January and rise again to more than £6,600 per year by spring 2023.

As a result, average monthly energy bills will hit £789 in January for home workers compared with £580 for those going into work, according to price comparison site Uswitch.

This equates to £209 a month and £2,508 a year. Remote working will still add £131 to energy bills each month from October, Uswitch found.

The average British worker goes into the office just one and a half days a week, according to consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates. Average attendance was just 29 per cent across UK offices, its research found.

In London, the Office for National Statistics said 37 per cent of professionals in the capital continued to stay away from the office in July. Prior to the pandemic, only 14 per cent of Londoners worked remotely.

Remote workers use an extra 75 per cent gas per day during winter and 25 per cent more electricity than those who go to the office five-days a week, according to estimates from Uswitch.

Everyday uses of household appliances while working from home can add up to push bills hundreds of pounds higher, analysis has found.

Boiling the kettle three times a day will add £8 a month to energy bills, or £100 a year, under the October energy price cap, according to calculations based on figures from Citizens Advice.

Similarly, running a desktop computer for eight hours a day will cost £35.68 a month. Using the oven to cook lunch will add £23.42 to the monthly bills.

Even though returning to the office could mean adding commuting costs, employees are still likely to be better off by £1,500.

The average commute by car costs £1,006 a year, latest pump prices from the RAC show. This is based on the average daily commute being 5,040 miles a year, according to research from comparison site Confused.com.

The typical car in the UK runs 38.8 miles per gallon, data from research firm NimbleFins has found. Renny Biggins, of trade group The Investing and Saving Alliance, said the rise in the energy bills would be even worse news for those working from home.

Even if it only costs an additional £700 a year to work from home, a basic rate taxpayer would need to earn nearly £900 a year more just to cover the cost, he calculated.

“Even with high fuel and train costs, it may prove more cost effective to pay any commuting costs and work in a warm office,” he said.

Higher energy bills could help some of Britain’s largest employers, who have been attempting to lure workers back to the office and in some cases issuing mandates to return.

Sarah Coles, of stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, said the “horrible scale” of the energy price increase would force people to reconsider spending they have always taken for granted.

“Even for those who consider themselves to be comfortable, this is a serious enough crisis that they’re going to need to find new solutions,” she said.

However, the cost of commuting may outweigh savings made on heating for some home workers, she said.

“Instead, people may have to reconsider how they use their heating, so instead of leaving it on all day they focus on trying to retain as much heat as possible in the rooms they’re using, through things like more draught-proofing.”