One of the advantages of heading out to work is not having to keep your house heated all day. In these winter months, when we’re wanting to turn up the thermostat, one thing that we have to bear in mind as homeworkers is how to keep warm and costs down when we’re working from home all day.
If you don’t want to spend the day hugging a radiator or dressed like a Michelin man, here are a few things which can help you keep warm and costs down when you work from home.
First, it’s worth remembering that you do get some help come tax time. You can, as a self-employed person, claim a certain amount for your utilities if you work from home. Using simplified expenses, you can claim a flat rate (up to £26 per month) depending on how many hours you’ve worked from your main place of residence.
Equally, if you live at your business premises (eg you run a bed and breakfast), you can also deduct a certain amount for your personal use of the premises.
You can also work out the actual cost, rather than using the flat rate of simplified expenses. HMRC have a checker on their website where you can work out which makes sense for you.
It’s not only money we might be trying to save, but limiting our impact on the environment as well. While we might not add to the congestion or pollution on the roads, we are adding to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the extra heating.
It’s estimated that by raising our thermostat by just 1°C, we are pumping out roughly an extra 320kg of carbon dioxide.
Lowering the thermostat
The US Department of Energy estimates that you can save up to 10% of your energy bill by turning the thermostat down 7°-10° F (approx 3°-5.5° C). That’s fine if you’re heading out for the day but not that comfortable if you need to stay in.
However, lowering the thermostat by just 1°C can, according to the Energy Saving Trust reduce your energy bill by roughly £80. If you’re prepared to stick on an extra jumper, reducing your room temperature from 19°C to 18°C could go towards that accountant’s fee come tax return time.
Keeping your room warm when you work from home
There are also some other ways to heat your room without cranking up the thermostat.
Economical rug warmer
One innovative product we love is Rug Buddy*.
This is the electric blanket for your room. Placed under your rug, it keeps your feet toasty and heats the room without the need for ramping up the temperature gauge.
Perfect for a small home office or even a conservatory. The under rug heater gently warms the room but importantly gives you warmth where you need it without having to spend ££ on heating the whole room or house.
Plus, you can get free postage on a Rugbuddy with our special code: TheHomeworker. Check them out here.
Possibly not the most glamorous item for your shopping list but you can get some very fun and cuddly ones.
In fact, we included this fluffy teal one in our home edit in issue 4 of The Homeworker magazine.
On a practical level, they stop that pesky draught that’s blowing under your door and turning your feet to blocks of ice and of course, they help prevent heat loss and save on the energy bills.
Insulating your home
Making sure your home is properly insulated is a longer-term investment but if working from home is to be a longer-term situation, it might be worth exploring.
Adding cavity wall insulation is, according to Which? one of the best ways to prevent heat loss from your home and can pay for itself within five years through savings to your energy bills.
Extra loft, roof, or floor insulation can also help as well as measures such as adding double or triple glazing.
How to stay warm when you work from home
When I lived in Australia, I was either sweltering in my home office in summer or freezing at my desk in winter. For all the perceptions of glorious warm days and sunshine, the houses were not built or insulated for the winter months. For two or three months of the year when temperatures dipped (and they do), I’d find myself flexing fingers at the keyboard, as they slowly turned blue.
So fingerless gloves are next on the list! You might still need to type and use your phone but keep your hands and fingers as warm as possible if you’re someone who has to spend hours at the computer.
Wearing multiple layers will keep you warmer because of the trapped air between each layer of clothing, which provides extra insulation.
Although we’re not going on a mountain hike (although sometimes the workday might feel that way), it’s worth knowing a few tricks from the outdoor enthusiasts.
Adding a base layer to your outfit is really going to help you stay warm. If you’re not exerting yourself and sweating a lot, then a cotton layer is ok – but bear in mind it absorbs any sweat so won’t wick away moisture if you start getting a bit clammy!
Silk is a really good option as it’s soft and light and easy to wear under normal clothes so a nice silk vest or cami would work well but it can be more expensive.
If you feel the cold a lot and your house is quite cold and draughty, merino wool makes a great layering option.
Embrace the fact nobody has to see you and get yourself some lovely thermal tights as well!
One thing that’s easy to succumb to when working from home is not moving. Not just not moving to exercise but really not moving at all apart from our fingers to type, text, scroll and perhaps occasionally gesticulate with frustration.
I don’t know about you but sitting in one position for several hours leaves me needing to oil a few joints before I can move fluidly. It’s not great for our posture, our backs and right now, our warmth. It’s easy to remain rooted to the spot, getting cold and achy.
Keep warm when you work from home with some simple exercising and get the blood flowing into those extremities with regular movement; a little jog on the spot and a few arm circles can do the trick. Or some simple stretching and weights can help to get your heart pumping and shift your energy.
You’ll start the blood circulating, prevent pooling and it’ll help you to warm up as well. Just remember to not sit in a sweaty mess afterwards so you’re not cold again!
Keeping warm with food and drink
One way people think of automatically to warm up when at home is by drinking a hot drink or having a hot meal.
These do provide some comfort and can give you the impression of being warmer. However, most studies show that the effect on your body is minimal.
A human body is mostly composed of water so putting in one cup of tea won’t dramatically change your temperature balance. In fact, in some circumstances, drinking hot drinks can trick the brain into thinking you are hot and that will trigger sweating and the cooling down mechanisms, therefore having the opposite effect.
Keeping costs down when you work from home
Here are a few extra tips to help you save money when you’re trying to keep warm when you work from home.
• Use a flask: If you’re an avid tea or coffee drinker, keep a flask of hot drink on your desk. This will save you a few pennies every day by not having to boil the kettle several times a day.
• Curtains: The home office might not be where you think to put a thick curtain. You might just have a thin blind or no window dressing at all but curtains can help to keep the heat in and insulate your room.
• Seal your chimney: If you have an open fireplace that you no longer use, you can seal it up to prevent draughts and prevent heat loss.
How do you keep warm when you’re working at home?
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