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Working from home or self-isolating? Here’s how you can keep your energy bills in check

 

  • New Government guidelines aimed at tackling the Coronavirus means millions are now working from home or self-isolating
  • Simple steps can help households avoid higher energy bills and even save money
  • Collectively the UK could save £4bn in 2020 from identifying their Phantom Load, and households could save up to £140 on annual energy bills

With as much as 60% of the UK workforce now potentially working from home[1] in a response to the global pandemic, data experts at home energy saving assistant Loop has shared simple steps to help reduce energy usage and make sure your home is as efficient as possible to avoid unwelcome bill increases.

Beware the Phantom Load

Some appliances need to be left on all the time (like a fridge or freezer) or kept on standby (like a smart speaker) but many appliances are left on that don’t need to be. This background electricity use is known as “Phantom Load”, because of the way in which energy is invisibly drained without users necessarily knowing about it.

Understanding the Phantom Load lurking in your home and what’s contributing towards it is important, as homeowners can often make simple changes that can lead to significant savings. With more people at home following government advice, Loop is urging homeowners to look around their home to identify any appliances that could be switched off.

Analysis of Loop data found the average UK household could be wasting up to £140 unnecessarily through their Phantom Load, while in some homes this could be as much as £450. These figures could increase with more people working from home.

Across the UK that means that just switching things off could collectively save households almost £4bn[2].

Some of the biggest energy-wasting culprits in British homes include faulty set-top boxes, which could cost more than £75 if left on standby for a year, and unused fridges or freezers which could be adding an extra £50 to your energy bill every year. With many now using office equipment at home, leaving desktop computers on around-the-clock could add £40 to your bills.

Top tip: Turning off your laptop or desktop when you’re finished for the day also helps to draw a clear line between work time and family time, something all remote workers should practice while working from home.

Steve Buckley, Head of Data Science at Loop, explains:

“Spending more time at home usually equates to higher energy bills. However, we’ve seen that even making simple changes can make a big difference to your wallet.”

“Phantom Load is not to be underestimated and there are some obvious culprits to look out for. By going around each room in your house to see what’s on standby, you can drastically reduce your energy waste and spend. However, Phantom Load is different in every household, and not every cause of wasted energy is obvious.”

“But for many people it’s not just about saving money – using less energy is also about helping to tackle climate change. The nation’s awareness of the impact of carbon emissions is growing by the day, and most people want to do something to stop it.”

Below are Loop’s tips for keeping on top of your usage while working from home:

1. Turn your central heating thermostat down by 1 degree 

Turning the temperature down by just 1 degree could save you up to £80 and reduce your home’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 320kg, all without you even noticing.

2. Move sofas away from radiators

If you’ve got the heating on for longer while you’re working from home, make sure you move any sofas away from radiators to ensure heat can circulate properly.

 

3. Reduce your Phantom Load

Some appliances need to be left on all the time (like a fridge or freezer) or kept on standby (like a smart speaker) but many appliances are left on that don’t need to be. This background electricity use is known as “Phantom Load”, because of the way in which energy is invisibly drained without users necessarily knowing about it.

Make sure you keep your Phantom Load low by turning items off when they’re not in use, such as laptops and desktops you are using to work from home. Household appliances like multi-room speakers and digital TV boxes can also contribute to rising costs, so switching things off at the plug when they’re not in use is a must.

4. Swap to LED bulbs

If you’re at home it’s reasonable to expect your lights will be on more often, so there’s even more reason to swap to LEDs.  If you replace all of the bulbs in your home with LEDs, then for an initial outlay of around £100 for an average house, you’ll save about £35 a year on your energy bill.

5. Switch your supplier or tariff

If you’re not sure which energy tariff you’re on, or when it’s due to come to an end, now could be the perfect time to check you’re still on the cheapest deal. If you haven’t switched supplier or tariff for over a year, there’s a chance you could be on a pricey standard variable tariff, so use an energy-saving assistant like Loop or head to a compare deals to find a cheaper option. There is no easier way to save hundreds of pounds!

With almost half of consumers reporting to have never switched[3], the UK could save more than £8 billion in 2020 by switching to a cheaper energy tariff at the right time.[4]

6. Keep calm and make a cuppa

Whether you’re still in the office or working from home, a morning cuppa is likely to be top of your to-do list, but make sure you only fill the kettle with the water that you need. The savings are around £6 a year, but every penny counts!

 

  1. Office survey by IWG Global Workplace
  2. Based on average Phantom Load saving of £140, multiplied by the number of households in the UK in 2019 (27.8m https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families ) = collective saving of £3,892,000,000
  3. Research by energy regulator Ofgem showed that 49% of people have never switched tariffs and 26% of people fear their bills will go up if they do switch.
  4. Based on potential saving of £300 from switching tariff multiplied by the number of households in the UK in 2019 (27.8m)