Five tips to stay warm when working from home (without upping your carbon footprint)

As we move through colder months, we turn up our heating and turn on the lights. With more of us working from home, many of us will have the heating on for longer, cook more from home, use more devices, and increase our energy use. This can lead to rising costs as well as a bigger carbon footprint. 

It may be tempting to return to the office to keep warm, but when you balance the financial and carbon costs of travel and eating out on top of your office carbon footprint, it’s often better to work from home.  

Here are our five tips to stay warm this winter without upping your carbon footprint and keeping energy bills down too. 

1) Only heat the room you’re working in 

Try and only heat the room you work in, and you’ll keep carbon and energy bills down. 

Here are some extra tips to keep bills down: 

  • Try fitting radiator reflectors. They will bounce the heat going to your walls back into your home, saving you carbon emissions and money. The average household cuts 35kg of carbon a year, and you’ll be heating your home, not the street!  
  • You can time your heating to perfection using a smart meter to get the right room at the right temperature at the right time without you needing to work it all out. A long term investment but with good payback if you can manage it. 
  • An easier step is to turn your thermostat down. Doing this for a degree or two will cut your bills straight away, with some households able to save over 5% from energy bills by turning down just 1C. You may not even notice the difference, especially if you take some of the other steps below.  

2) Dress to stay warm 

Be honest, are you hanging on to wearing your comfy tee just because you don’t need to go outside? When you start feeling cold, the best option you have is to add some layers. Even better to wrap up early as it’s easier to stay warm than heat up again when you’re already chilly.

Here are some other favourites from the Giki team when you’re at your desk: 

  • Use a hot water bottle. Place a hot water bottle on your lap as you work. A great hot water bottle can retain heat for hours and you’ll feel toasty throughout!  
  • Grab a blanket and put it on your lap. No one will see when you’re on a call and it does wonders for keeping the heat in. 

3) Drink warm drinks and eat warm food sustainably 

One of the best ways to avoid the cold is to drink hot drinks and eat warm food. Before you pop the kettle on, #thinkcarbon. Every time you boil a kettle you use energy, and the more water you boil, the more energy you use. Cut electricity use by only boiling what you need, and you’ll save carbon and money. You’ll even save a few seconds as the kettle will boil faster. 

With rising fuel costs, cooking with an oven or the hob can get expensive. Microwaves are a very efficient way to heat food so you can reduce carbon emissions and save time. Microwaves use less than half the energy compared to the hob or oven for certain meals. A microwave meal could save up to 50% in carbon emissions compared to the hob. 

What we eat is a large part of our carbon footprint (we looked at the carbon footprint of popular work lunches), so, choosing to eat more plant-based meals (even if you try them once a week at first) is a great way to cut carbon.  

Plant-based diets and veggie lunches are often cheaper and more filling than their meat-based counterparts and offer plenty of great options, including stews, and soups, which are warming. At Giki HQ, we love batch cooking and using the microwave to heat up. Here are a few of our favourite low-carbon recipes.  

4) Switch off lights and devices 

It’s not just the cold temperatures to contend with, shorter days may mean you need to switch on more lights or use more devices. When the clocks go back electricity use jumps by over 15% immediately because more people are awake at 5pm than when it starts to get light at 6.30am! 

These are little tips, but they do add up to make an impact on your bills and carbon footprint: 

  1. Turn PCs and laptops off when you’ve finished work  
  1. Turn the lights off in the rooms you are not using  
  1. Check you haven’t left any devices on standby mode after you’ve finished using them.  

For more tips, you can use our WFH checklist.  

 5) Long-term thinking, planet-saving impact 

Homes lose a lot of heat through the roof, increasing energy bills, and carbon emissions.  The Energy Savings Trust estimates that the cost of insulation can be paid back in lower bills within three years so insulation will pay for itself many times as it should last for 40 years. It’s a big step with a big impact. 

Make the change to a heat pump, and you’ll be taking a big step with a big impact. Heat pumps offer a way to dramatically reduce carbon emissions because they are so efficient at turning electricity into heat. The running costs from a heat pump should also be lower than a fossil fuel boiler. 

Find what works for you, and don’t feel guilty if you need to turn up the thermostat to find the perfect balance. The goal is to cut carbon and save you money, not to freeze! 

Many of these tips can be used in an office and help your organisation cut its bills. If you want to engage and educate your colleagues on sustainability and bring environmental thinking into business decision-making, get in touch.  

For more planet-saving steps, sign-up to Giki Zero for free.