8 ways to reduce the impact of rising fuel bills when working from home
Freelancers and contractors who work from home for the most part have a lot of advantages. With utility bills going up by 50% and expected to increase even more in October, however, many are suddenly facing spiralling costs that are seriously affecting business.
Not only that but costs in fuel are causing rises in other areas of business that could well just add to the misery, explains WondaPay.
With prices rising so much, there’s certainly a sense of panic across the nation as people worry about their future bills. As someone working from home, you’re adding to that price hike even more simply by being there. But, despite the impending doom, there are still things you can do both big and small to bring the costs down if you take a holistic approach.
1. Reducing your bills
The first is to be practical and that could well mean giving up some of your home comforts. For instance:
- Don’t heat the whole house, just the room you are using to work in.
- Lower your thermostat by a few degrees.
- Work in a south-facing room that is likely to get more sun and is going to be a little bit warmer.
- A smaller room is also easier and cheaper to heat.
- Invest in comfortable warm clothing that you can wear instead of putting on the heating.
- Turn off appliances you aren’t using.
If you don’t have a smart meter, take readings every day at the same time to see how your usage varies and how small changes can make a significant difference.
For example, many freelancers will have the television on in the background while they work (a bad habit but a familiar one). If you have a 200 W TV, this would have cost you around £170 a year before the price hike in utility bills. In the future, it’s going to be even more. Without the TV on you’ll save money and be more productive because you won’t be so easily distracted.
There’s a useful online tool from Omni Calculator where you can key in the wattage of the device you have and see how much it is likely to cost you over the year. Use this or a similar tool to start building more sustainability into your home operation.
2. Offsetting bills
By this, we mean making changes to the way you operate that lowers your costs and offsets the problem of rising utility bills and inflation. This is what we mean by a holistic approach. While gas and electricity may be eating up more, you can make savings elsewhere.
There are several ways you can do this and, while individual savings may be small, they soon mount up.
3. Raising your prices
Yes, it can seem like a bad idea, especially in a competitive market and it may upset some of your customers but raising your prices is probably going to be something you can’t avoid if the cost of utilities continues to spiral. Be sensible about it and ensure you explain the reasons to your customers.
4. Renegotiate your broadband
Broadband suppliers know that customers are starting to struggle, especially those working from home. The way that Wi-Fi and telephone bills are calculated can often seem a bit bemusing but the truth is that companies can show a good deal of leeway in their pricing. If you can get £10 to £15 a month off your connections costs it’s a small victory that puts more money in the pocket of your business.
You should apply this principle for every service that you are supplied with at the moment. It’s worth contacting your supplier, explaining the situation and seeing if you can get a reduction. They can only say no and you might be surprised by the number that will give you a discount.
5. Reduce travel, go Zoom
Many freelancers travel to see clients and this can add to the cost of operations as the price of petrol is also going through the roof. Most businesses appreciate this and are willing to compromise.
Essentially, if the meeting can be conducted virtually, it should be done so and that can save you a significant amount of money.
6. Cut down your food bill
This may sound trite but when we work at home we also consume at home. Get into the habit of doing a weekly shop instead of popping out to the nearest sandwich place to get a snack. Every little helps, and reviewing your snacks and beverages can lead to significant savings over the year.
7. Use an escrow service
Most freelancers use online payment services and platforms for their work. If you’re using a marketplace like People Per Hour or Upwork, you could be paying between 7.5% and 20% in fees for gigs, a charge which takes a big slice out of your eventual earnings.
Switching your clients to a dedicated escrow service can help reduce costs – most of the good ones only charge around 5% per transaction.
These are paired down services that help protect the money your client pays and keeps it safe until a project has been completed and both sides agree payment should be made. It’s also a great way to attract new clients who may be wary about paying upfront for projects while giving everyone complete peace of mind.
8. Getting the tax breaks
Finally, reducing the amount of tax and National Insurance you pay can also help to leave more cash in your pocket and offset the rising price of utilities.
It’s a good idea to have a closer look at your outgoings and make sure that you have it right. Anything that you pay for that helps you run your business from paper and staples to petrol and software can be offset against your tax return.
13th April 2022