Beat the chill without the sky-high bills this winter, with these clever energy-efficient ways to keep warm whilst working from home – without having to buy anything new.
Working from home definitely has its benefits. For a start, there’s zero commute to contend with. There’s a lot to love about logging in to your morning team meeting without having to battle traffic or packed trains just to get there.
However, the one big downside though for many of us WFH-ers is the energy bills. With energy prices at frankly ridiculous levels, and set to rise further in April 2023, we are all looking for ways to cut our bills whilst we work.
Whilst I have a whole post dedicated to easy energy-saving tips, I didn’t have anything specific on working from home. I’ve been working solely from home for nearly three years now, so I’ve racked up some clever tips on how to keep warm whilst working from home that I’m keen to share with you.
10+ Clever Ways To Keep Warm Whilst Working From Home (Without Cranking Up The Heating)
The bulk of these types of keep warm whilst working from home articles on the internet all seem to exist to sell you gadgets you never knew you wanted or needed.
I always think that spending money to save money can be a bit hit or miss. I mean, when it comes to home insulation, spending money on that is a hit. But when it comes to things like heated gilets, they do sound toasty. However, would using a hot water bottle that you already own work out cheaper?
A cup warmer, for example, also sounds good. But how often do you realistically let your cup of tea or coffee go cold? An insulated cup or flask that you already own would do a similar job. You can also use a flask outside the home, making it more practical.
Instead, I’m focusing on things you can do to keep warm without having to spend money. I don’t put my heating on whilst I’m working – only popping it on for a little while in the evening when the kids are home from school – so here and my tried and tested ways to keep warm.
1. Claim Tax Relief
First off, did you know that if your contract states that you have to work at home, then you can and should claim tax relief for additional household costs associated with working from home?
This amounts to £6 a week and includes a contribution to your electricity and gas bills. You can claim even if you only work from home for part of the week. However you can’t claim if you choose to work from home – it’s only if it is mandatory that you work from home.
£6 a week doesn’t sound like much, but at £312 over the year, then it’s a little help towards those energy bills. It certainly helps offset the costs of keeping warm whilst working from home.
Meanwhile, if you are self-employed and work from home, then you can claim up to £26 per month for your utility bills. This also works out at £312 over the year.
2. Keep Your Feet Warm
I have Raynaud’s Disease, which means I feel the cold very easily. I have found that keeping my feet warm – wearing a combination of toasty socks and cosy slippers – is key to keeping my core body warm when working from home. And let’s face it, is there any greater joy than popping on a pair of fluffy slippers?
If you have gone on a walk or done some exercise, then your socks may be a little sweaty. It’s always best to change your socks in this situation, as your socks will hold onto the sweat, cooling your feet.
3. Reposition Your Rug
In a similar vein, if you have hard floors, then you’ll keep your feet and body warmer if you move your rug under your desk, rather than having it in the middle of the room.
Floors account for around 15% of the heat lost in our homes. Particularly so if you have wooden floorboards that haven’t been insulated. Laying a rug under your desk acts as a barrier – preventing cold air from seeping in, and trapping warm air from disappearing down your floorboards.
4. Layer Up
Layering up efficiently is a great way to keep warm whilst working from home, without having to invest in anything new. Layers trap air between each item of clothing, making it harder for body heat to escape.
Natural fibres, like cotton and wool, are great as they’ll keep you warm. Unlike polyester or other synthetic fibres, these types of fabric will also help to maintain your natural body temperature. This means you’ll stay toasty, but because they’re breathable you won’t get so sweaty. As sweating cools you down, breathable fabrics are key.
For video call situations when I need to look smart, I’m all about business on top and party on the bottom. And when I say party, I mean a cosy party.
On my top half, something like a smart wool jumper with a thermal vest and top underneath works well without looking like the Michelin Man or that you’re about to climb Mount Everest. I know some meetings can feel like an uphill slog though! And on my bottom half, I’m all about thermal leggings under jogging bottoms. No one will ever see or know!
6. Bring Out The Hot Water Bottle
Have you heard the phrase heat the human, not the room? I’m big on this, so my hot bottle becomes a permanent fixture come November time. Placed on your lap, it’s great at keeping you warm whilst working from home without needing to put the heating on. Sometimes I’ll pop it on the floor, and gently rest my feet on it if they are feeling particularly cold.
For fiercely cold January days, when nothing seems to take the edge off the cold then I take a different tack. Here, I swear by placing a hot water bottle in the bottom of a sleeping bag. Get in the sleeping bag, so that your lower half is fully enveloped. The heat rises, and the sleeping bag traps the heat, leaving you as snug as a literal bug in a rug. Just be careful getting up if the doorbell rings!
I picked up this tip when I was a student in Aberdeen – aka one of the coldest cities in Britain. It’s never failed me yet.
5. Embrace The Blanket
I’ve mentioned sleeping bags, but unless it’s absolutely Baltic outside then you probably don’t need to go that far. A cosy blanket draped over my legs gets me through most of the winter just fine. You can also sit through video calls with a blanket on your legs, and no one needs to know!
7. Get Active
As a homeworker, I know how tricky it is to get active during the day. However, a little regular exercise does wonders in helping you to feel warmer through exercise’s effects on your cardiovascular system.
A short brisk walk during your break is an easy way to refresh the mind and get the heart pumping. If the weather isn’t cooperating or it’s too dark, then you could try some light exercise at home. You don’t have to go full Joe Wicks (although nothing is stopping you if you want to!). Jogging on the spot or a few star jumps can be enough to gain the benefits.
If you break a sweat, then just remember to change out of your sweaty clothes afterwards, to help keep that warm glow.
8. Lower The Thermostat
If the day is just too cold to leave the heating off, then turning your thermostat down by just 1°C could reduce your heating bill by up to 10%, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Turning down your thermostat doesn’t just save on your bills. It is estimated that turning down your thermostat by 1°C can reduce carbon emissions from your home by around 340 kg a year.
9. Shut It!
It may sound simple, but basic things like keeping the door closed in the room where you are working from home can go a long way in keeping you warm.
In a similar vein, make sure you close your curtains or blinds at dusk to help keep the heat in. The good news is that you don’t have to work in a dark cave all day. That’s because keeping your curtains closed during the day doesn’t help. Instead, open in the morning them to help get some passive solar gain. Even on a grey day, every little helps.
10. Beat Draughts
Even with the door closed, you might still feel cold air creeping under your home office door. To help beat these draughts, and keep heat in, place a draught excluder along the bottom of the door in the room you’re working in. If you don’t have a draught excluder, a rolled-up towel will also do the trick.
11. Turn To Hot Drinks
Whilst the jury is out on whether hot drinks actually warm us up, very few of us can make it through a working day without being powered by tea or coffee. As an avid tea drinker, I keep a flask of tea on my desk. Whilst it saves me from having to boil the kettle multiple times a day, the main benefit is that it keeps your drinks warm in those long video meetings that could easily have been an email.
12. Seek Help If You Are Struggling
Of course, with the sheer scale of the increases in our energy bills, it is almost impossible to save enough energy to make a considerable dent in our bills. The standing charge for electricity – the amount that you pay each day before you’ve even used any energy – is up more than 80% this year alone.
If you are struggling with your energy bills, do seek help. Speak to your supplier first – some energy suppliers offer hardship funds if you are struggling to make payments. Most will offer payment plans to help you manage your money.
Citizens Advice also have details on grants and benefits that may be available to you to help you pay your energy bills.
You can also contact your local council. This year all councils received additional funding from the government to help them support those struggling with increasing costs of living. Get in touch to see what support they can give you.