What are the extra electricity costs of working from home?

One person working from home could spend up to $343 more per quarter on their energy bills.

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The number of Australians working from home has doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the University of Sydney's 2020 Transport Opinion Survey. If you're one of these people, you might have noticed your most recent energy bills have been higher than you're used to.

How much extra do you spend on energy when working from home?

When you're at home, you foot the bill for all the energy you use that would normally be covered by your employer. So how much would one person working from home add to their energy bill every 3 months? We've crunched the numbers and found that one person could add an extra:

  • $340 in summer
  • $324 in winter

Hourly costs in this section were derived from this guide, unless otherwise stated, by taking the hourly (cents) column for each appliance, dividing by 20.2c/kWh (the value used in that table) and multiplying by 26c/kWh (the rough average of all state usage totals on our average electricity costs page).

Finally, each appliance was assigned a set number of hours per day, which was multiplied by its per hour usage rate and the number of days in 3 months to get the quarterly usage value.

Note: If you have more than one person working from home, these costs would likely go up.

Home office costs: $35.90 (if you use a laptop)

Hourly costDaily costQuarterly cost
Laptop (8 hours)(1)1.3 cents10.4 cents$9.40
Desktop computer (8 hours)2.6 cents20.8 cents$18.80
1 full phone charge(2)N/A0.26 cents$0.23
Office/living room lights (5 halogen lights, 4 hours)7.1 cents28.3 cents$25.47

Entertainment: $13.90

Daily costQuarterly cost
Medium flat-screen television (4 hours)13.4 cents$12.05
Speakers (4 hours)2.06 cents$1.85

Kitchen: $41.32

Daily costQuarterly cost
Microwave (10 minutes)4.3 cents$3.90
Electric oven (30 minutes)27.3 cents$24.56
Electric cooktop (15 minutes)14.3 cents$12.86

Heating/cooling an extra 4 hours a day: $233.80 to $250

Daily costQuarterly cost
Heating (electric, extra 4 hours)(3)$2.60$233.80
Cooling (extra 4 hours)(4)$2.78$250

How can I save on energy when working from home?

Here are three things you can do to cut your power consumption when working from home:

  • Heat or cool for one hour less per day. As you can see from our analysis above, heating and cooling are the worst offenders when it comes to energy costs. Running your aircon for one hour less could save you about $50 every quarter, or adjusting your thermostat a couple of degrees higher or lower could save about the same.
  • Disable standby mode. Electronic devices continue to use a small amount of power when plugged in, but not in active use. Luckily, modern energy standards mean this passive consumption is pretty low, but turning things off at the wall can save you money nonetheless.
  • Change energy plans. If you're like most Australians, chances are you aren't on the cheapest energy plan available to you. Comparing providers and switching could help you save on your energy bill, even while using the same amount of extra energy working from home.

Can I deduct my energy bills from tax when working from home?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ATO has put in place a special shortcut method for claiming working from home expenses, including your energy bill. We've broken this method down for you here.

What can I do if I'm struggling with paying my energy bills?

There are two main types of assistance for customers who are struggling with their energy bills during the coronavirus period and beyond:

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