Londoners better off returning to the office as energy bills soar

Passengers arrive during the morning rush-hour at Waterloo Station in London, on June 20, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Workers in London looking to save money may want to embrace the office over winter as the cost of working from home soars alongside energy bills.

Those prepared to go into the office every day could save about £50 (S$84) per week in January 2023 if they could walk, run or cycle into their workplace. That is thanks to the money they have saved by not heating a home for the whole day, according to estimates by price comparison site Uswitch.

Those working from home in January could expect to pay around £175 a week in energy costs and other incidentals included in Bloomberg's calculations, such as buying in coffee, a freebie in many offices.

The combined cost of energy bills - factoring in the lower consumption expected - and five return trips on the Tube from London's Zone 4 would be about £160 a week in January 2023, a £15 saving.

For those taking the bus, the total cost is about £140, a £35 weekly saving. In both cases, any rise in the cost of the commute will eat into those savings.

Uswitch estimates that the average monthly energy bill could hit £683 in January for home workers, compared with £492 for those heading to the office. It assumes remote workers use 25 per cent more electricity and 75 per cent more gas per day, including from central heating.

Coping mechanism

National Energy Action policy officer Matt Copeland said: "People are going to be really struggling to heat their own homes and they are going to look for warmth in other places - we know that is a coping mechanism that people use, whether that is going to a public space, such as a library or a church maybe, or whether it's going to work when you usually would work from home. 

"Those are the options people will consider and people will take to actually find warmth."

The incentive to go into the office is likely to be welcomed by some in the city of London, where finance bosses have been pushing for a return to the office.

Right now, fewer than half the workers in Britain's banking sector go into the office on an average day, and just 18 per cent of insurance sector employees do so, according to a survey by consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates.

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