Working at home? Five things you need to know about energy bills

By: Lauren Pope

Date: 10 September 2012

A lot of start-ups get up and running at the kitchen table or in the spare bedroom. It’s an exciting time, but it’s also a challenge that can leave you with a lot on your to-do list and empty pockets. 

I’m not going to add to anything to that to-do list; instead I’m going to ask you to take five minutes, have a cup of tea and read five things that could put some cash back in your pocket if you work from home.

1. The first thing you need to know is that businesses pay much lower energy prices than you pay at home. For example, electricity unit rates are around 37% cheaper:

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2. The second thing you need to know is that just because you run your business from home doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from these low prices - it’s possible (and quite easy) to switch your home to a business tariff.

3. The third thing is that if you want to switch to a business tariff, you’ll need to use around 50% of your energy for business purposes. You’ll also need to be able to prove that you really do run a business, with something like a business rates document, a website or a compliments slip.

4. The fourth thing is to use a business energy broker. (Make sure they’re independent and covered by the Third Party Intermediary Code of Practice.) They’ll be able to compare rates from across the market to get you a good deal and can they take a lot of the admin off your hands.

5. The fifth and final thing you need to know is that there’s a tax benefit too. Whether you’re on a business tariff or not, you can claim the energy you use while you're working as a business expense. You can claim by the proportion of the area of your home that your workspace occupies, or by the amount of your energy bill your business accounts for. For example, if you use a small room as an office, which represents 5% of the floor area of the house, and your electricity bill for heating & lighting is £600, you can claim £30, or 5% of the total. Or, if you work from your living room for half the time and your family uses it the other half, and it represents 10% of the area of the house, you can claim £75, based on a total energy bill of £1500.

So there you have it, five things you need to know about your energy bills that will hopefully save you a few pounds without adding any hassle.

Lauren Pope is editor at Energy Forecaster, a site dedicated to helping businesses get ahead on energy issues.