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Employees demand help with energy costs

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More than half of UK workers think their employer should be offering support to cope with record breaking household energy bills according to new research by Big Clean Switch. 

The research was carried out over the summer, with energy costs already running at £1,971 a year for a typical home. The average bill rises a further to £2,100 in October, even with the Energy Price Guarantee announced on 8 September1, leaving many families struggling to cope over winter against a backdrop of wider cost of living increases. 

The real costs could be higher still for many, with working from home estimated to have added between 7% and 20% to a typical household energy bill2. More than four fifths (84%) of those who had to work from home during Coronavirus lockdowns plan to continue to work from home at least some of the time.3

The survey of UK workers by Big Clean Switch found that 54% believe employers should be offering financial support to employees working from home to help them with the cost of energy. Almost a third (30%) also wanted help from employers in funding energy efficiency improvements to their homes.4

Big Clean Switch founder Jon Fletcher says the results don’t necessarily mean employers need to offer direct cash payments to staff. “Providing the knowledge and equipment to reduce energy consumption can have a huge impact on household energy bills, and at a lower cost to the employer. And it helps to lower carbon emissions – it’s a triple win.”

Fletcher says that with prices forecast to stay high for many years to come5, helping employees to reduce their consumption now will “lock in” savings for future years.

“Most of us are very poorly informed when it comes to the ways we could reduce our consumption, and don’t realise that even very simple changes can save us hundreds of pounds a year, especially at today’s energy prices,” he says.6

“There are a whole range of measures available to employers right now to offer meaningful support to their workers.”

Account-to-account payment company GoCardless is one business taking action to support UK staff. The company has offered energy-saving smart power strips to employees as part of its sustainability initiatives and is looking to provide efficient electric heaters to help their people manage energy use and avoid heating unoccupied rooms during the day.  

For Ben Knight, Head of Environmental Sustainability at GoCardless, helping employees has been a no brainer: “We include greenhouse gas emissions from home working in our carbon reduction targets, so we already knew we had to support employees in reducing emissions as much as possible. The cost of living crisis has really added an extra sense of urgency.”

Big Clean Switch, which has worked with companies including Sky, Tesco and IKEA, has developed a range of employer services which could cut bills for some workers by more than 50%. 

Fletcher agrees that the benefits go beyond cheaper bills and carbon savings: “There are upsides for employee attraction and retention, too. This is a huge opportunity for forward-thinking employers to stand out from the crowd in a competitive jobs market.”

Big Clean Switch can help your employees with…

– Learning tools to improve their understanding of household bills

– Guidance on low-cost ways to save energy

– Apps and equipment to help understand energy use and reduce it

– Home energy audits and managed retrofit services to deliver quality-assured energy performance improvements

[1] The Energy Price Guarantee will limit household energy bills to £2,500 a year for a typical household (using 12,000 kWh of gas and 2,900 kWh of electricity) from October 2022. A further £400 of support (previously announced) due to be applied to bills over the winter of 2022 will further reduce this to £2,100. The support will stay in place for two years.For more information, see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-energy-price-guarantee-for-families-and-businesses-while-urgently-taking-action-to-reform-broken-energy-market

[2] The headline figures for the Energy Price Guarantee and the price cap are calculated using Ofgem’s typical domestic consumption values (TDCVs) (https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2020/01/tdcvs_2020_decision_letter_0.pdf). These were set in January 2020, before the Covid-19 outbreak led to greater levels of hybrid working. The International Energy Agency estimates that working from home results in increased energy consumption of between 7% and 20%. https://www.iea.org/commentaries/working-from-home-can-save-energy-and-reduce-emissions-but-how-much

[3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/ishybridworkingheretostay/2022-05-23

[4] Nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK respondents, segmented to reflect views of those in employment. Survey commissioned from FindOutNow in August 2022 by Big Clean Switch.

[5] https://www.cornwall-insight.com/press/energy-prices-to-remain-significantly-above-average-up-to-2030-and-beyond/

[6] Big Clean Switch estimate that a family of four each taking a daily shower of 7.5 minutes will cost a typical  home with a ‘C’ rated gas combi boiler and normal water flow rate £676 a year at the current April 2022 price cap. Reducing the length of the shower to 4 minutes would save £316 per person. Providing employees with an eco shower head or flow regulator would offer similar savings.

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