The UK could spend an extra £52m ($60m) a week on household energy bills as employees start working from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, new research has found.
People working from home will use 25% more electricity and 17% more gas per day than households where people are out at work all day, according to the research by comparison and switching service Uswitch.com.
This adds up to an estimated increase of up to £195 a year per household or £16 more per month for customers on the most expensive tariffs.
This could affect approximately 16.8 million people who will be avoiding their normal workplace in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus adding up to a total of £52m in additional energy costs across the UK.
The energy industry is working with the government to help households affected by the coronavirus pandemic with measures including help with topping up pre-payment meters, energy bill support for households struggling financially, and protection against disconnection.
Cordelia Samson, energy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “This is a hugely unsettling time for everyone, with many people staying at home who don’t normally, and some having to juggle looking after children at the same time.
“People will be thinking about vulnerable friends and relatives, so the last thing on their minds will be their energy bill.
“It’s great to see what energy firms are doing to keep the most vulnerable people supplied with gas and electricity, and we would urge all suppliers to continue to work together to protect those in need.
“Working from home and entertaining children during the day means having the heating on when it wouldn’t usually be, and using extra gas and electricity for cooking, making cups of tea, televisions and computers.
“The amount of extra energy households use will vary from home to home, but assuming a household with medium annual usage is at home for an extra 50 hours per week, we've estimated that they will probably use around 25% more electricity and 17% more gas right now.
“Across a whole year, this could increase bills for people on poor value Standard Variable Tariffs by almost £200 — around £16 a month. But don't forget that warmer lighter days are on their way, so while it looks like we could be stuck at home for quite a while, we probably won't need to use as much gas and electricity as we did over the winter”.