How much does it cost to work from home?

Working at home will cost the average Australian an extra $2.78 per weekday in increased energy consumption according to a fact sheet developed by Energy Networks Australia (ENA).

Working from home means running your own computer all day, more lighting and, most importantly, increased heating costs as Australia heads into winter.

Most residential energy consumption occurs in three activities: heating and cooling air, heating water and, for those who have them, running pool pumps. The rest of household consumption like lights, televisions, computers and toasters use a lot less energy over the course of a day.

The economic cost of the big enemies of working from home – the fridge, the bed and the television – doesn’t really change, although productivity might. ENA has included an additional 60 cents a day in the extra energy used watching Netflix and playing video games, but it’s hard to make the case that these activities are really work.

Excluding the games console, the extra energy cost of working from home, if, God forbid, we stay locked down this long, would be around $500 per annum. That might seem expensive, until we factor in how much working from home saves most people.

According to an Australian Railways Association report in 2015 the cost of commuting to work daily by car was, on average, around $12,000 per annum by car and $2,000 per annum by public transport.

That doesn’t include the time cost of commuting, which according to research by the RMIT estimated the average Australian spent 66 minutes per day in transit.

Energy prices were predicted to fall in 2020 by about 7 per cent before the global oil price wars, which have halved electricity and gas wholesale prices in Australia and should materialise in energy bills in the coming months if the global oversupply of oil continues, which appears increasingly likely.

These lower energy prices will not offset the cost of increased demand, but most home workers will still be financially better off overall, even if most long for the day of paying for the privilege of being packed into commuter trains or gridlock traffic once again.