Working from home will cost an extra £131 a month in fuel bills under new price cap

·4-min read
Energy prices are set to soar further in October  (PA Wire)
Energy prices are set to soar further in October (PA Wire)

People working from home could be set to fork out an extra £131 a month on fuel bills, when the price cap rises in October.

The pandemic saw a societal shift towards home-working, but could soaring energy prices see people return en masse to offices in a bid to keep down costs?

Employees have been advised to weigh up the price of their commute against the rising cost of energy from October 1, with those paying less than £30 a week for travel possibly better off going in to the office to save money, says Uswitch.

A spokesman for the price comparison and switching site said: “For workers who don’t have an expensive commute, working from the office is likely to be more economical this winter.”

A typical household will run up a £363 monthly bill for gas and electricity under Ofgem’s new £3,549 price cap, for the three months from October 1.

But full-time workers are estimated to increase their daily gas use by 75%, based on them having the heating on for an extra 10 hours a day during the coldest months. Meanhile electricity use is predicted to rise by 25% as they cook meals and prepare cups of tea at home.

Larger households with higher energy consumption are likely to pay £513 a month, rising to £698 for those working from home. These households could save money if their total weekly commuting costs add up to less than £46, Uswitch calculated.

Those living smaller homes like flats are likely to pay £243 on average a month for energy, rising to £330 if they work from home.

These householders are unlikely to find it cheaper to work from home unless their commuting costs are more than £20 a week.

Latest predictions suggest the price cap is predicted to rise further in January to £5,386, meaning that the average household will be paying £580 a month for their energy, compared with £789 for those who are working from home. In that situation, only those paying £49 or more to commute each week would find it cheaper to work from home.

The difference is even greater for larger homes that use more energy, with an average January bill of £861 rising by £310 for home-workers to £1,171 a month.

Uswitch energy spokesperson Ben Gallizzi said: “Working from home during the colder months of the year is obviously going to be more expensive as employees are likely to need their heating on during the day.

“Using extra energy when the heating would usually be off will be especially noticeable on bills this year with prices rising by 80%.

“Not only do people working from home use more energy staying warm, they are also cooking lunch and making cups of tea, as well as running computers, TVs and phone chargers.

“The amount of extra energy home workers use will vary, but we estimate that people at home for an extra 50 hours per week could use about 25% more electricity and 75% more gas per day this winter.

“Based on this, for workers who don’t have an expensive commute, working from the office is likely to be more economical this winter.”

Some people say they are now weighing up whether to return to offices.

Twitter user Adam said: “There is a local office offering desks for £20 a day or one-person offices for £25. I think I am going to take a measure on how expensive heating gets and book in when it goes over that amount.”

Ian Buckingham took to Twitter to say he plans to continue working from home, while keeping his heating switched off in the daytime. “Managed it last year,” he wrote. “Jumper and ski socks. Not all that bad.”

Meanwhile, those with costly commutes say working from home will still save them money, along with time spent travelling.

Sara Clifford-Gray wrote: “I honestly don’t know how I’m going to afford my train fare each month if my employers insist we go back to full time office based working - no way is my energy bill going to drop by £270 per month to make up for it!”

Twitter user Elliot Baggott suggested some firms - also facing a hike in energy prices - may not welcome the return of staff to offices.

“The CEOs of our companies are going to look at the office’s October energy bill, do a Looney Tunes face react, and immediately decree indefinite WFH again,” he wrote.