Coronavirus has meant drastic changes to the way we live our lives. In particular, we have had to quickly adapt to an entirely new way of remote working with an estimated 20 million Brits now working from home. With only 1.7 million people in the UK working from home before the pandemic, this is a significant change to many people’s everyday lives.
Big changes to our daily routines also mean big changes to the way we spend our money. On the surface, it appears there is the potential to save a ton of cash by working from home. For example, you no longer have travel costs, extortionate take away coffees, or have to buy lunch out every time you forget to bring your own in!
However, there are some hidden costs to working from home worth being aware of. Recent research has found that households in Britain will spend an extra £52 million this year on energy bills per week. It’s thought that, on average, we will use 25% more electricity and 17% more gas. Bearing this in mind, we’ve teamed us with the folks at MoneyFixers and created a list of the best ten money-saving tips which can be easily implemented into your new working life.
1) Claim £6/week tax back on extra costs. Employers can pay you £6 extra tax-free a week for additional working from home costs. However, as firms are suffering financially from the coronavirus this could be an ambitious ask. Instead, you could claim tax relief on £6 a week- this would mean asking the amount to be deducted from your taxable income. To do this you will need to fill in an online or postal P87 form.
2) Remember to turn down the heating. The recent heatwaves the UK has been having mean high heating bills are not currently a concern. However, many people may still be working from home in the winter and turning on the heating could see household bills skyrocket. Reducing the thermostat by just one degree could save you £80 a year and, with an extra layer on, you’d hardly notice the difference.
3) Haggle with your internet provider- It has been reported by MoneySavingExpert that you can knock thousands of pounds off your broadband bills by calling up your provider and simply asking for a better deal. This doesn’t have to be a confrontational call- just find a better deal from another company and say you’re going to leave if they can’t at least match the price.
4) Boil the kettle only when needed. Making cups of tea or coffee is a much-needed break in the day when working from home. However, every time you boil a full kettle it costs you 2.5p, so re-boiling the kettle three times in a day adds up to £27 across the whole year. Save some cash by making sure you only fill up the kettle with the amount of water you need.
5) Enjoy natural light- Not only is natural light known for improving your mood, but it could save you money on your energy bills. With the early sunrises and late sunsets, have a second think about if it’s necessary to turn on the lights in your home.
6) Air dry laundry- Take advantage of the warm weather by drying your clothes outside on the washing line. Tumble dryers take up significant amounts of energy and air drying is better for your clothes.
7) Make sure you load up the washing machine- Although it can be tempting to turn the washing machine on when its half empty it’s important to wait until it’s full to let it run. This will save you money on both your energy and water bill.
8) Use a microwave – It turns out the microwave is the most cost-efficient way to reheat your food! If you don’t have a microwave, make sure you use the right sized pan for the amount of food you cook. This will prevent you from wasting energy on heating more surface area than is needed.
9) Make sure you’re turning the lights off- Considering 70% of workers had zero experience of working from home before coronavirus you may not be in the routine of turning off lights in empty rooms. This is an important habit to get into when spending so much time at home as it could add pounds to your annual energy bill.
10) Unplug appliances which aren’t being used - Wasted electricity occurs when appliances are plugged in and aren’t being used. Checking around your home for this is a simple and easy way to make sure you’re not needlessly adding costs to your energy bill.
All these tips were chosen because they are accessible and easy for most people to implement into their new homeworking routine. However, if debt is impacting your ability to save money whilst working from home then more serious solutions may be suitable. For example, the benefits of an IVA mean you could write off a significant amount of debt and you only pay what you can afford. Similarly, you could consolidate debt through a debt consolidation loan. Both options could allow you to turn your debts into one affordable monthly repayment.