Employees working from home this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic could spend more than £45 per month extra on heating and electricity, according to new research by Nottingham Trent University.
A study led by Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh, an expert in energy efficiency and intelligent engineering systems, implies that people in England’s 600,000 most inefficient properties could face almost an extra £28 in heating bills per month while the average pandemic home worker will pay more than £17 extra on electricity.
However, people who previously commuted long distances to work, and who live in energy efficient properties, might make savings by working from home and lower their carbon footprint simultaneously.
Professor Al-Habaibeh, of the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing lots of people to work from home and this clearly includes a major effect on domestic energy consumption, as well as the nature of our carbon emissions.
“The outcomes show that a family living in a well-insulated home and who normally use a car to travel to work will not be affected significantly in terms of their household budget, as they will save on diesel or petrol.
“Additionally, it shows that the increase of carbon emissions from heating their houses will on the whole be compensated by the reduction in car use.
“But for a family with a poorly insulated house who in normal circumstances do not travel long distances to operate, working from home over winter will cause much more of a strain on their budget because they will be consuming more energy.”
The most inefficient homes according to the research are detached and uninsulated. You will find roughly 600,000 properties like this in England alone.
By contrast, properties that are very well insulated –with a gas fired boiler – are experiencing a heating bill rise by between £1.31 to £4.20 monthly, depending on the property type, according to the study.
The average electricity bill per household increases by up to £17.97 monthly, according to the study, due to increased daytime use of electrical appliances such as TVs, desktops, laptops, lighting and electric kettles.
Therefore, people working in the most poorly insulated homes, who before spent hardly any when commuting, could spend around £45 per month extra on energy bills due to working from home during this winter.
On average, the researchers believe that the increase in domestic CO2 pollution could be largely offset by the decrease in fumes from motor vehicles due to fewer people driving to work and the reduction of activity within the industrial sector.
The calculations are based on the assumption of occupants working 5 days per week at home between 9am-5pm, at a room temperature of 21oC.
Researcher Arijit Sen, who worked on the project, said: “There is clearly a risk highlighted here that households which already are afflicted by energy poverty could notice a worse financial situation during a winter lockdown if they're working from home.
“While many people in employment will improve off financially due to the current situation, there will be a number of people who will find working from home a much more expensive option for them. This project shows the importance of building insulation and its effect on household budget.”