Have you been working from home during the lockdown?
For office workers who can work remotely, the lockdown has afforded an opportunity to trial a new way of doing things; dropping the daily commute in favour of a desk in the spare bedroom or garden shed.
And one positive consequence of this mass rotation away from office commuting is a far lower impact on the planet.
According to new research, around three million of us plan to hold a self-imposed ‘green lockdown’ once Covid-19 restrictions are fully lifted, by continuing to work from home to help save the planet.
The research from building society Halifax found that 41% of UK adults said the lockdown made them more aware of climate change issues.
Our outlook has also changed due to the pandemic, with 58% of people never expecting things to return to ‘normal’.
In response to the recovery from the pandemic, there’s an inspiration to make lasting changes to behaviours to become more sustainable.
57% of those responding to the research said the lockdown has made them more hopeful the world can make real changes to tackle the climate emergency.
For younger people, this holds particularly true, with 73% of 18 to 34-year-olds saying the lockdown has given them a glimpse of a more sustainable lifestyle.
On working from home, nearly a third of workers plan to continue to shun the commute once lockdown measures are fully lifted.
Motivations for continuing to work from home include avoiding the risk of spreading the coronavirus, but also for environmental reasons, with 29% choosing to keep working from home to cut their carbon emissions.
81% of people believe remote working is a solution to reducing carbon emissions, but these home workers could do more harm than good if working from homes with low energy efficiency ratings.
With fears of an economic recession too, cost-saving measures will be a priority following the pandemic.
More than half of people have experienced higher energy use during the lockdown, averaging £17.40 a month more spent on gas and electric bills.
Spending more time at home during the lockdown has encouraged us to cut our household emissions, most commonly keeping lights and heating switched off as much as possible.
Despite these efforts to save the planet, only 4% of those surveyed have reviewed their home’s energy performance certificate.
Andy Mason, Halifax Mortgage Director, said:
“It’s clear that for many going back to ‘business as usual’ isn’t going to be an option and instead they will continue to spend more time at home, believing it to be better for the environment. However, without taking steps to ensure homes are as efficient as they can be, these good intentions could be clouded by rising energy usage and monthly bills – at a time when many are concerned about their financial security as well as the planet.
“We know how much of a concern the environmental and financial impact of energy efficiency is for home owners and renters alike, which is why we welcome the announcement which highlights the benefits of making homes more energy efficient and will offer practical support for homeowners to make more positive changes.”
Halifax shared a series of tips designed to improve the energy efficiency of your home:
Carry out an energy efficiency health check. The first step to a more sustainable home is identifying the areas for improvement that will have the most impact.
Install energy-saving lighting. One of the quickest and simplest changes you can make that will make a huge difference to your energy bills is to replace all your home’s current light bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs.
Upgrade your boiler. It’s important to keep your boiler in good shape to ensure you are heating your home efficiently. You should always consult a professional in the first instance, who will assess if your boiler is safe to be repaired or serviced. Depending on how old your boiler is, it may be worth upgrading to a newer model that’s more efficient and reliable. Not only could you benefit from energy savings and a warmer home during the winter months, but you could even end up saving money in the long run.
Use smart thermostats. A smart thermostat helps you save money by heating your home more intelligently. It’ll learn the best way to keep you warm at home while using the minimum possible energy. The more you use it, the more efficient it will become.
Double the heat with double glazing. If you are living in an older house, you may not have double glazed windows. Changing this will not only be an effective way to keep your home warmer for longer, but there is the added bonus of keeping noise out.