BRITS are spending more than £65million a month on energy while working from home, according to new research.
A survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed 40 per cent have transformed their home into a makeshift office during lockdown.
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That implies there is a total of around 12.5million people now working from home across the UK.
Smart meter energy provider Utilita investigated the costs of running a home-based office, a kettle for tea and coffee, and a microwave for heating up food at lunch.
It found it totals £1.26 per person a week – or £5.04 per month – based on working an eight hour day.
This is just under one-tenth of the £10.80 per week the average Brit estimated it costs them.
But over the course of a whole month this works out at more than £65million for everyone working from home in the UK.
Smart meters can enable households to keep a constant eye on their energy usage and help them save money.
It is estimated most households can use around 20 per cent less energy by monitoring their smart meter more closely.
However, 66 per cent of those surveyed admitted they have no idea how much energy they are using daily, with just one third knowing how much they pay per month for their energy bills.
And four in 10 adults are extremely worried about how big their bills could be by the time life returns to normal.
What to do if you can’t pay your bills
FALLING behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.
If you’re struggling to pay what you owe, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
Your provider has to help you come up with a solution, and you should be able to negotiate a deal that works for you both.
One option is to agree a payment plan where you pay off your debts in affordable instalments.
You may be able to pay off your debts directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.
A fixed amount will automatically be taken to cover what you owe plus your usage.
To be eligible, you must be getting one of the following benefits:
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income support
- income-related employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)
If you cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, they may try to force you to get a prepayment meter installed.
In very rare cases, where you refuse to negotiate, your supplier might threaten you with disconnection.
In response, three quarters of home workers are trying to be as economical as possible by shutting down their laptop when not using, turning off lights, and disconnecting broadband.
The survey, conducted for Utilita by OnePoll, also revealed half of Brits are trying to save money so they can afford their energy bills, while 37 per cent have taken a pay cut since the country went into lockdown.
And one third are worried they could be put on furlough during the lockdown.
Bill Bullen, chief executive of Utilita, said: “It’s great to be able to reassure the millions of people who are working from home that their additional energy spend is nowhere near what they imagined it would be.
“We all needed some good news, and here it is.
“The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on the benefits of having a smart meter and in-home display, including topping up remotely for prepay customers.
“We are delighted to learn that 70 percent of people with a smart meter and in-home display are monitoring their daily energy usage, as we know from experience this reduced the average energy spend by another 20 per cent.”
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To help with cost-cutting, Utilita has revealed five free and simple ways that Brits can save £163 per year on their energy bills.
They are turning the heating off when out (£80), avoiding using standby (£30), unplugging used electrical items (£30), turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms (£14) and washing clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees (£9).
Bill Bullen added: “For many people, working from home will mean they are spending less on travel, but that’s not the case for everyone.
“The pandemic is creating uncertainty for households, meaning every penny matters.
“There are other ways we can make savings as a result of our extra time spent at home – it’s a great time to think about how to make small changes at home to save.
“That is exactly what our Energy High 5 campaign is designed to do – a free-to-join movement for every home in the UK, presenting simple ways to save up to £163 per year.”
Here’s how to get help paying your energy bills if you are struggling.
And there are ways of reducing your bills – even while you’re working from home.
From May 1, energy companies will have to compensate customers if they make mistakes during switching.