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Will working from home increase your energy bills this winter?

10-Jun-2020
Written by Matthew Bourn
Even with COVID-19 lockdown measures lifting in Sydney, social and physical distancing has resulted in many Sydney businesses continuing to offer work-from-home options to their employees. With North Shore residence mainly working in corporate services professions, we have a high percentage of people continuing to work from home.

Now that you’ve made the transition to working from home, have you considered what this might cost you in terms of your utility bills this winter?

Residences on Sydney's North Shore are predominantly large family homes. Their close proximity to several national parks and hill-type natural terrain means that some homes are located in valleys and may experience damper climates throughout the winter months. And with the added energy use of more people working from home, it’s highly likely that the heating bills throughout winter would be on the higher side.

To avoid the unpleasant shock of receiving skyrocketing energy bills, you need to make sure you are on the front foot with your energy consumption.

Let's explore smart ways to better insulate and heat your home whilst keeping utility bills to a minimum.

Smart energy-saving moves

Here are some smart energy-saving changes you can start implementing today so that keeping your energy bills down will be easier:

1. Maximise natural light
Move your workspace to the sunny side of your house or apartment. You can save on lighting and heating costs by working in a room that naturally gets warmed by the daily sunshine.

2. Keep doors closed
Turn off the heater (or air conditioning during summer) and close the door to rooms that are not in use.

3. Dress for the season
Wear the appropriate clothes to keep you warm this winter, including jumpers, socks, and slippers. Purchase a nice blanket you can put on your lap and around your legs whilst at your workstation.

4. Keep showers to a minimum
It’s cold, you’re barely moving and sweating, so you can limit baths and showers once to three times a week. The frequency of your showers also depends on your skin type.

5. Install a thermostat
To save energy, your thermostat should be set between 18°C and 20°C during winter, and between 22°C and 25°C in the summer. One excess degree above these temperatures will increase energy use by as much as 10 per cent.

6. Make your home draught-proof
Seal gaps around all windows, doors, skylights, cornices, and skirting boards. Install a draught stopper to block airflow under doors.

7. Go natural with clothes drying
Use sunlight and wind energy to dry your clothes, especially during the warmest times of the day.

8. Pay attention to condensation
Reduce moisture and avoid rising damp by opening windows slightly in the afternoon as this will allow the moisture to escape. Use a portable humidifier (that warms the air) so you can turn your thermostat down. As an added bonus, the right humidity level will guard you against dry skin and hair and scratchy throats.

9. Remember to power off
Whether it’s the lights, warmer drawer, or heater, remember to turn these off when not in use. Turn off the heating at night and anytime you head out of your home.

10. Improve home insulation
To prevent much-needed warm air from escaping your home this winter, get your home checked and fix any insulation problems in the wall, attic, duct, or roof. Get your windows double-glazed as well.

11. Use more rugs and carpets
Put down more rugs and carpets on tiled or wooden floors. These items have low thermal conductivity and can act as natural heat insulators, thereby helping reduce heating costs.

12. Utilise solar power
Solar collectors don’t need intense sunlight to be able to generate energy, so get them installed and be ready to reduce energy consumption this winter.

13. Be wary of phantom energy loads
Electrical equipment or electronic gadgets that you keep plugged in all day even when not in use still consume energy — this includes anything with a clock, timer, adaptor, memory, or remote control. So, aside from turning off idle devices and appliances, make sure you unplug them, too. This includes turning off the washing machine as soon as the load is complete, or the television when no one is using it.

14. Get a smart meter reader
Consider getting a smart meter reader to help you identify which areas in your home use the most electricity. You'll have a better idea and more control over your energy consumption with one in place.

Energy savvy for all seasons

Working from home can mean higher energy bills, especially come winter. Stay on top of your power consumption this season and all throughout the year by consistently applying the tips shared above.

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