Even before the coronavirus restrictions, millions of people across the country were choosing to work and run businesses from home. Now the UK is emerging out of life after lockdown, and we’re getting used to the ‘new normal’, it seems that the trend for home or hybrid working isn’t going away. With a shorter commute and greater flexibility, it’s easy to understand why businesses choose to opt out of costly premises by running their operations from home.
Working from home can have an impact on your energy usage, but thankfully, there are some simple changes you can make to help lower your carbon footprint and reduce your energy bills.
Here, SSE Energy Solutions shares some practical energy efficiency tips and advice for people who work or run their business from home.
This article is for information purposes only; it isn’t intended for those experiencing financial difficulty. If you’re an SSE Energy Solutions customer and struggling to pay your bills, please visit our debt management webpage for more information about the help and support available.
If you’re able to set up a dedicated workspace, you can save energy by not having to power otherwise empty rooms. Plus, it can improve your work/life balance because it’s easier to mentally switch off and disconnect when you finish work.
When you’re setting up a workspace, consider working in a smaller room so you’re not using as much energy on heating. You might also want to position your desk or work station in front of a window to maximise natural lighting.
Something as simple as switching off your work equipment after using it could lead to impressive energy savings. If you often leave your appliances and equipment on standby, you might want to invest in some smart plugs. (Plugs that connect to your Wi-Fi so you can switch appliances on and off from your phone). There are lots of different smart plugs on the market, so you should be able to find one within your budget.
When it comes to upgrading your appliances or equipment, look out for its energy label. Appliances are tested for how much energy they need during typical use and are given a rating on a scale of A to G, with A being the most efficient product in its class, and G the least. Some older appliances use a different rating scale, from A+++ to G, with A+++ being the most efficient.
If you’re based in England, Scotland or Wales, you can find more information about the energy labels, including a ‘scan and check’ tool, by by visiting the Label 2020 website.
You might not be able to enjoy the same watercooler conversations, but taking breaks throughout the day is still as important when you run your business from home. To make sure your tea breaks are as energy efficient as possible, a few small changes could make a big difference and lower your consumption.
Something as simple as only fillling the kettle with the amount of water you need will lead to savings over time and lower your overall energy consumption. And keeping your drinks in a thermos mug or flask will keep them warm for longer, so you don’t need to re-heat them or boil the kettle again.
When you’re preparing food, using a microwave, airfryer or toaster is more energy efficient than a hob or grill. And when you’re washing up, you’ll save energy by fillling up the sink instead of keeping the tap running and only using the dishwasher when it’s full.
Smart meters record how much energy you use and automatically send readings to your energy provider. Rather than waiting until your monthly statement to see how many units of gas and/or electricity you’ve used, a smart meter tells you exactly how much energy you’re using and how much it costs.
By having a good understanding of how much energy you use normally, you can track the energy-efficient changes you make and how they impact your consumption and costs. For example, you could set yourself a challenge to follow some of the tips we’ve mentioned in this article for a week or a month. Then, you’ll be encouraged to stick with it if you see the difference it’s made through your smart meter.
If you’re an SSE Energy Solutions customer and you don’t have a smart meter, you can register your interest online. And if you already have a smart meter with us, make sure you take advantage of SSE Clarity. It’s a free, online energy management platform that helps you understand how you use energy, giving you the chance to reduce your consumption and lower your bills.
This isn’t necessarily an energy-efficiency saving tip, but it’s worthwhile reminding home business owners that they should be able to claim back a percentage of household bills as an allowable expense.
This cost could be claimed as a flat rate of £4 per week if you don’t want to or can’t show receipts. Alternatively, you can claim tax relief for specific household bills, as long as you can prove they’re used solely for business purposes. HMRC says you’ll need to find a ‘reasonable’ method of dividing your costs and suggests going by the number of rooms you use for business or the amount of time you spend working from home.
Claiming back your home business expenses isn’t about paying less tax, it’s about being tax efficient and not paying more than you need to. Just remember that allowable business expenses must be incurred wholly, exclusively and be necessary for the running of your business. And as is the case with anything related to tax or accounting, you should seek independent financial advice if you’re not sure what your company can and can’t claim to keep everything above board.
When it comes to saving energy when you’re running a business from home, even the smallest of changes can make a real difference. It’s all about incorporating new habits into your daily routine until they become second nature. If you try out any of these energy saving tips, please let us know on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
And check out the small business sustainability hub for more tips and advice.
Please note, SSE Energy Solutions has written this blog for information purposes only. We recommend speaking to your own business and financial advisors before taking any direct action that will impact your business.