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Going into the office won't save you on energy bills

Work from home or go into the office – neither is going to offset the looming energy crisis coming our way this winter

Somebody using a thermostat with graphics to show the cost of living crisis

In the UK, we used to take the word ‘crisis’ with a pinch of salt. But a combination of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, Brexit, and the consistent ineptitude of a never-ending Tory government, has created a cost of living crisis that’s made salt too expensive.

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As such, the country is in a state of perpetual crisis; one of its own making. This is only going to get worse in the winter when an unfathomable rise in gas and electricity bills push us all into crippling debt. There’s no avoiding it, either, despite the fact many remote workers are now considering whether it’s more cost-effective to come into the office than use the energy in their own homes. 

Martin Lewis, of MoneySavingExpert fame, explained the problem far better than anybody, a couple of months ago, when he simply said he had no more money-saving tips to share. Yet, here we are, on the brink of this latest crisis, with people who should know better still claiming there’s a way through it. Indeed, I wouldn’t bother asking Google how to save on energy bills because it will just point you in the direction of naive guides that recommend ‘tips’ like using the hob instead of the kettle to boil water. Such advice will likely only knock a few pennies off the estimated cost of powering your home, which is projected to hit an average of £3,549.

Over the last few days, articles in the New Statesman and The Telegraph have questioned whether working from home is now too expensive. The unaffordable rise in energy bills is going to put an end to the remote working revolution, is the key suggestion. To be fair, these voices aren’t wrong: it’s going to be too expensive to work at home. The problem is that it’s going to be too expensive to do anything at home, whether you work there or not, as an 80% increase year-on-year is still going to leave you drowning in price rises. 

Going to the office might save you some money off your electricity bill, but only if you live close enough that you hardly pay any travel fees. I will also just point out that train prices have also surged, and getting into London from one of the surrounding counties costs roughly the same, per year, as you may expect to pay to power your home this winter. The issue is worse in the North of England where public transport is limited but oddly more expensive, as the Mayor for Manchester, Andy Burnham, has repeatedly explained. 

Some people want a full-scale return to the office and they will use any old excuse to make it happen. You may have seen Alan Sugar’s recent tweet, in which he branded someone a ‘scumbag’ for suggesting working from home was a good thing. 

Lord Sugar thinks this practice is for “lazy gits” who are simply watching television instead of working. This completely ignores the extensive research showing how remote work has actually led to a rise in productivity, as well as the fact that, very soon, few of us will be able to actually afford to watch the telly in the first place.

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