Working from Home is Increasing Your Energy Consumption up to 63%
67 per cent of us are working from home full-time or partially, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies. While you might enjoy the extra sleep-in and the comfort of wearing pyjama pants all day, how’s your electricity bill faring?
Instead of your work copping the bill for all your screen use and those trips to the kitchen to make a cuppa, now it falls onto you. So how much is working from home adding to your home’s energy consumption exactly? And are there ways we can reduce it?
Breaking Down the Average Household Electricity Usage
To understand how working from home will affect your energy bill, we need to break down the average household electricity usage in Australia. This will vary from house to house depending on their power usage and whether they use gas too.
Heating and cooling is the biggest energy user in the average Australian home, accounting for 40 per cent of your home’s energy usage! This is followed by your appliances at 30 per cent, hot water at 23 per cent, and lighting at 7 per cent.
Working from home, you can expect your energy usage across all these categories to increase. How much though?
Average Household Energy Consumption Australia Working from Home
Working from home full-time for two weeks could add $30 to your energy bill, according to Canstar Blue. That works out to $3 per day, or $15 per week. Energy Networks Australia has reported a similar cost per day for the average Australian working from home – $2.78 per day, or $13.90 per week.
This is on top of the average household energy consumption in Australian homes. Energy bills vary state by state – Victorians can expect to pay approximately $1012 annually, while those living in South Australia are up for $1444 each year.
For simplicity, we’ll look at an annual energy bill in between these two at $1228. That works out to $23.62 per week. Add in the extra $13.90-15.00 per week for working from home and that’s bumped up to $37.52-38.62.
Working from home for a week increases your home’s energy bill by 58 to 63 per cent for that week. Where does this increase come from? Let’s break it down per day.
Heating and Cooling
The biggest energy guzzler in your home, regardless of whether you’re working from home or not, is your heating and cooling. Depending on your climate, it can account for 20 to 50 per cent of your home’s electricity consumption.
Using a split system in a medium-sized room (36m3) for a meagre four hours during the workday will cost you approximately $2.00. This will vary depending on the temperature settings, the external temperature, how well insulated your home is, and more.
Running a home office for eight hours a day will set you back approximately 18-19 cents per day. There are a lot of different components that go into a home office, including:
- typical 13″ laptop – $0.03
- one computer monitor – $0.06
- phone charging – $0.01
- heating water to boiling in a kettle for 5 minutes – $0.05
- printer printing for ten minutes – $0.02
- two LED lights running for four hours – $0.02
This is just the typical home office setup, however, and will differ from house to house with different setups and equipment. Few of us are only working eight hour days too.
Whether it’s for work or play, our home entertainment appliance usage has definitely increased. Four hours a day of using your TV and gaming console will set you back roughly $0.40 and $0.20 respectively.
How to Calculate the Cost of Electricity Consumption
These dollar values are calculated using the average home’s energy consumption and electricity tariffs. This won’t match up to your situation perfectly. You can calculate the cost of electricity consumption by appliances in your home with reasonable accuracy.
All you need is these three things:
- The electricity consumption of the appliance in Watts.
- Your electricity tariff in cents per kWh (you can find this on your energy bill).
- The amount of time the appliance is used.
Your energy bill is made up of more than just the kWh pricing. You also need to factor in the supply charge – the daily fee that you’re charged just for having electricity readily available and connected, regardless of your energy usage.
Using these equations, you can calculate the cost of working from home for your household specifically. You can also identify the biggest electricity guzzlers in your home and see if you can minimise their use.
How to Reduce Electricity Consumption Working from Home
While many of your working from home costs are tax-deductible, it’s still in your best interests to reduce your electricity consumption. Here are a few targeted ways you can reduce electricity consumption while working from home.
Set Your Air Con Temperature Right
If you’re waiting until the hottest part of the day to put your air con on full blast, you could be spending a lot more on your heating and cooling than you need to. In summer, the ideal cooling temperature is 25-27°C. In winter, it’s 18-20°C.
When cooling, every degree that you lower the temperature is an extra 10 per cent of electricity you need to pay for. As the biggest contributor to your working from home cost, you can make a big difference here by using your air conditioner strategically. This means setting it to the right temperature and turning it on early rather than later in the day when it’s already too late.
Don’t Overuse Appliances Unnecessarily
We’ve all paused an episode on Netflix to go do something else, only to forget and come back hours later with the TV still on. While you might not have been using your TV, you still need to pay for the electricity it used while you were gone.
The same goes for simple things like overfilling the kettle when boiling it. The more water in the kettle, the longer it takes to boil.
Only using your appliances for as long as you need them and not any longer can make a small difference when your next energy bill comes around.
Natural Lighting Over Artificial
Why pay to use your lights when the sun can naturally illuminate your workspace? RRelying on natural lighting rather than artificial lights during the day is a simple and effective way to reduce your electricity consumption.
Check Your Devices’ Settings
Most devices enter a power-saving mode when left unattended for too long by default. Tweaking these settings could help you save even more power though.
Reducing the amount of time before the device enters sleep or standby mode is an easy way to reduce its energy consumption.
Don’t Charge Your Devices All Day
Sitting right next to the powerpoint, you might be tempted to leave your laptop and phone plugged in and charging all day. Save yourself the higher energy bill and only charge them when they’re low!
Negotiate a Better Price or Plan
If you’re working from home and having to pay for extra electricity consumption, you want to be sure you’re on the best possible plan with your energy provider. Switching to a cheaper provider could have even greater savings!
Many state governments have also introduced rebates or vouchers to offer assistance to those struggling.
Work from Home Tax Deductions
When tax time rolls around, get a little cashback by claiming working from home expenses. As an employee, you can make a claim if you meet all the following criteria:
- you personally spent the money
- the expense is directly related to earning your income
- you have a record to prove it
- your employer did not provide the item
- you were not reimbursed for it
This means you can claim your electricity expenses that are related to working from home. This includes heating and cooling, lighting, and appliances/devices related to your work.
Whatever your working situation is, there is a workaround to keep working from home cost-effective. Whether you try to reduce your overall household electricity consumption or switch to a cheaper plan, working from home doesn’t have to significantly increase your average daily electricity usage.