How to save energy when working from home

Woman sitting at a wooden kitchen counter working on her laptop with a mug beside her and a blue tiled wall in the background

Many of us have successfully adapted to working from home life, and what may have seemed unfamiliar at first now feels more routine. Working from home has many benefits, but energy consumption can be higher. The extra gas and electricity typically needed to keep your household running smoothly throughout the day often mean higher utility bills.

Hive looks at just how much working from home is affecting energy usage and offers ways to help reduce consumption.

Working from home and energy use

New research carried out by British Gas has revealed a number of trends regarding how working from home affects everyday energy consumption. The biggest highlight is that there’s a 38% increase in energy usage currently occurring around lunchtime – 1pm – as households use appliances to prepare meals while simultaneously going about their work tasks.

Likewise, there’s evidence to suggest that a lot of people are staying up later than usual. According to findings, between 10pm and 7am overall energy consumption is higher (most likely due to lights, TVs, iPads etc being used throughout the night more).

As far as lockdown in general is concerned, the data also points that many more households using their cookers instead of visiting restaurants and / or relying on takeaway. This is especially evident on weekends where a very clear pattern of cooking (typically with ovens) emerges. It starts at around 12pm when people prepare their Sunday lunches and consume them around 1-2pm. Then again with making dinners from 4-5pm and eating afterwards. More time to cook means hobby chefs are branching out at home, in turn generating greater energy consumption.

It’s safe then to assume that working from home habits are changing the way we use energy in the house, potentially causing bills to rise.

Which household appliances use the most energy?

Wherever you go in your home, there’s always an appliance running, whether gas or electric. Sometimes, even when you think they’re idle! The main energy-hungry culprits are:

  • Cooling and heating systems: 47%

  • Water heater: 14%

  • Washing machine and tumble dryer: 13%

  • Lighting systems: 12%

  • Fridge: 4%

  • Oven (electric powered): 3-4%

  • Television: 3%

  • Dishwasher: 2%

  • Computer (desktop PC): 1%

How much extra will this cost while working from home?

As we continue working from home through autumn and winter, energy bills could rise with lots of us looking for ways to stay warm indoors. In fact, recent research by Uswitch has predicted that households where people are already working from home will use 25% more electricity and 17% more gas per day. This increase is predicted to accelerate when colder weather arrives, and people naturally turn their heaters up.

Furthermore, an updated analysis conducted by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) suggests that, if lockdown measures remain or are re-imposed during the autumn/winter months, those living in cold, leaky homes could see their heating bills reach up to £124 per month, compared with £76 per month for residents who have well-insulated, energy-efficient homes – a difference of £49 (£48.70) per month.

Working from home energy-saving tips

There are several things you can do while working at home to help keep your energy bills at a stable level:

  • Stay in one place. While moving from room to room is an easy habit to get into during work-from-home hours, it can unwittingly increase your energy consumption. Fortunately, the Hive App allows you to control heating and lighting systems from your device, so you can be sure you’re not overusing energy.

  • Take charge of your schedule so that you don’t work longer than necessary. Although this can be tempting, especially at home, you’ll only be wasting energy and money. And burning yourself out in the process!

  • Keep heat to a minimum. Wrap up warm in a cosy jumper while working from home in winter. Save energy by only using your thermostat when needed, which your smart heating system can help with. There’s also the possibility of changing temperature by room if you have a smart thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) installed.

  • Get acquainted with the eco settings on your appliances. Today’s dishwashers and washing machines usually feature environmentally friendly cycles that keep your items clean and your costs down.

  • Let the sunshine in! Making the most of natural daylight will help give your smart lighting a break and eliminate the need for desk lamps. Hive cool to warm light changing bulbs can actually eliminate the need to have multiple light appliances plugged in altogether, as they can change depending on your needs.

  • Try not to overfill the kettle on your coffee break – otherwise you’ll waste electricity heating water you don’t need.

  • If you plan on using the oven at lunchtime, try batch cooking or baking several things simultaneously, to take advantage of the energy used to heat it. By the same token, if you use the hob, place a lid over each saucepan to lock in the heat. This will save you energy and money long-term.

  • Make sure your home is properly draught proof and insulated to prevent cold air entering through gaps around doors. Our Window Sensor can even help to check that your windows are not left open by mistake in winter.

  • When the working day is done, unplug all unnecessary devices from their outlets. Our smart plug can help here, scheduling your mobile phone or laptop charger to switch off after a certain number of minutes (up to 6 times a day) to avoid wasting energy and frying the battery.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. But it’s important to start saving energy in the areas that will make the largest impact on your overall household consumption – especially while you continue working there.

Saving energy while working from home may seem like a challenge at first, but with time taking steps to increase your efficiency will be easy and cost effective long-term. A few simple adjustments are all that’s needed for making your home office space more energy-savvy.

Looking for smart ways to save energy while working from home? Check out the Hive shop with its fantastic bundles and offers.

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