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Is your remote working cost-effective? How to keep that energy bill down when running a home office

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With widespread business shutdowns forcing many Aussies to work from home, could we see more businesses opt out of the office environment, in favour of flexible work arrangements and the home office? While it may reduce overheads for business owners, employees who work from home are likely to notice a spike in their energy bill.

Whether you’re a freelancer, self-employed, or someone who has found themselves working from home during the shutdowns, knowing how to run a low-cost and energy-efficient home office will help save you money and minimise your carbon footprint.

Here are my six top tips for saving electricity while working from home:

1. Make your air-conditioner work smarter, not harder

As we head into winter, it may be tempting to crank the heater up a few notches to stay warm while sitting at the desk all day. However, setting the temperature too far above or below the natural outside temperature significantly increases energy expenditure. Try to keep the thermostat no more than eight degrees above or below the outside temperature and rug up with thick socks to compensate.

2. Charge your devices at night-time

If your electricity is charged on a tariff that has off-peak rates, recharging devices such as phones, laptops and tablets at night could shave a few extra dollars off your energy bill. Particularly if you have an extensive home office set up, this could help lower costs by unplugging devices from power during the day while you work.

3. Don’t go overboard with a large monitor

The larger your desktop screen, the more costly it is to run. Choosing the smallest monitor that still allows you to work efficiently is a compromise that will save on electricity in the long run. Don’t skimp on the energy rating either, as a cheaper monitor with a low rating is likely to burn through much more electricity!

4. Use task lighting when working late

The days are getting shorter as we head into winter, which means many of us will be flicking on lights earlier in the day to continue working. If you’re up late at your desk, try using task lighting instead of ceiling lights to help save power. Task lighting can be a desk lamp or even a candle to provide a bit of ambience. 

5. Track your work hours to claim on tax

The ATO now allows Aussies working full time at home to claim additional running costs at a rate of 80 cents per work hour from 1 May to at least 30 June.[1] Be sure to log your working hours to be eligible at tax time – via an online calendar or timesheet

4. Heat lunch in the microwave

If you’re in a rush to eat, consider opting to use the microwave, over an oven or stovetop. Not only is the microwave a quick and easy option, but it also uses a fraction of the energy, compared with an oven or stovetop. Grab some leftovers, or even make something from scratch by steaming veggies or cooking up some eggs. To help keep costs down, be sure to switch the power point off at the wall, as running on standby mode still uses electricity.

Helen Baker is a financial adviser, author, and speaker with a passion for empowering Aussies to find financial freedom through strategic planning and goals-based financial advice. She has worked as a qualified financial adviser since 2009 and was a finalist in both the Financial Planner/Advisor of the Year and Women’s Community Program of the Year categories in 2017 as well. For more information, visit Money.com.au.

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