The heating is on and it’s 11am on a weekday.
The slow cooker is making lunch and the laptop is uploading some audio for our radio programme. In the background This Morning is on TV silently (research and comparison purposes obviously).
This is my house – but a common and definitely energy-sapping picture as winter approaches in 2020.
A year that has seen millions of us start to work from home.
And whether that suits you down to the ground, or you’re suffering from cabin fever, we’re all spending more on gas, electricity and supplies.
The average energy bill last year was £1,254, according to the regulator Ofgem – that’s almost £3.50 a day.
The thing is, that’s based on our old habits; commuting, a two-day weekend at home, so a few hours of heating here and there.
Some energy experts reckon home working could easily double those numbers this year.
So here are some ways you can save money, with the help of Laura Ann Moore – a money and mindset coach.
Your employer can pay you £6 a week extra, tax-fee, if you work from home.
This is an agreement with the government, and if the employer is struggling, so can’t give the money directly, they can take it off your taxable pay.
You don’t need receipts, you simply contact your payroll.
“People think it’s only six pounds [a week] but it adds up,” says Laura.
Now we are all spending time in one place a budget can become a game-changer even if it’s just to match what goes in with what comes out.
“One of the things I’ve been telling people to do is unsubscribe from marketing emails,” Laura says.
She has multiple clients she’s worked with since March who have let “boredom spending” become problematic.
“It’s the instant gratification. If you feel like you can’t trust yourself, take your credit card details off your phone.”
The concept here is that your gas and electricity switches to a new supplier when a better deal pops up – without you doing anything.
The auto-switch market has just gained a big new player – Martin Lewis – and this could mean more competition, but we could also see more deals with early release fees.
They are normally only about £30 per fuel and it may mean a switch is not worth it.
But if you are at home all the time and like it hot, auto-switching may be the route for you – if you can cope with the loss of control.
It’s not the only way you can save money when you auto-switch energy, according to Laura Ann Moore.
“You can get cashback – stuff that can stay in the bills pot [when you switch].”
She points out that we will all be using more water too, now many people have meters charging for how much we use.
If you do work from home here’s how you could cut your tax bill.
It might be worth looking at the bigger picture.
As it looks like we are all in this for the long run, you could change the lights bulbs – all of them – to LEDs.
They use 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and can sometimes pay for themselves through energy savings in just a couple of months.
It might cost a fair whack to change twenty bulbs in one go, but by April when you still have the lights on during a wet dull day, you’ll be laughing.
For many of us, going out of the house less frequently, whether to work or out for a drink, means saving smaller amounts – and these can add up.
“Actively make a decision to save this money,” says Laura.
She points out with unemployment rising we all need to be saving more if we can – and home working savings are the best way to form that kick-start.
It’s a big total, but three months wages is often talked about as a good figure.
Laura says: “That’s what most people are realising now, that they don’t have an emergency fund.”
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