Tuesday Nov 29, 2022

No, you aren’t automatically saving money by working from home. Here’s how much it’s costing you – Fortune

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Lunch-flation. Soaring gas prices. Updating your work wardrobe. It’s no wonder many U.S. workers are resisting employer demands to head back to the office full-time.

Despite many companies setting April return-to-office deadlines, for the past month, U.S. office occupancy has held steady at roughly 43%, according to Kastle’s Back to Work Barometer that takes into account rates in 10 major cities. Many employees are pushing back against heading into the office not because of rising COVID caseloads, but arguing that their commutes are too expensive. In fact, a recent report from Deloitte found nearly 40% of millennials and a third of Gen Zers report that remote work has helped them save money.

But is working from home really a savings game-changer for most workers?

While working from home means skipping the commute, it’s not free—especially when you take into account rising energy costs. Electricity costs in April alone were up 11% year over year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.

That increase might not be a big deal when you spend eight or more hours a day at the office soaking up that corporate A/C. But when workers are at home, the cost is on them—and that expense could be significant depending on factors like the size of the home, type of A/C system, and various home maintenance variables like window efficiency. Not to mention the additional costs to power your computer, keep your work phone charged, and maybe even run a printer once a day or so. 

During the first four months of 2022, Americans spent an average of $23 more on monthly electricity and gas bills than they did during the same period in 2019, according to data provided to Fortune from bill pay service Doxo. On average, Americans have spent about $156 a month for electricity and $150 a month for natural gas so far this year. Those who use heating oil and propane had even higher bills, averaging $302 a month for their heating expenses in 2022. 

Those higher costs weren’t even racked up during the hottest months of the year for most of the country. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that during the summer of 2020 when many Americans were under lockdown orders and working remotely, residential electricity consumption was 7.9% higher than in the summer months of 2019. That was the fastest year-over-year summer energy growth since 2010.

This summer, the administration predicts that residential customers will average about 1,050 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity use per month between June and August 2022. That’s about 2.9% less than the summer of 2021, due in part to milder temperature forecasts, as well as fewer Americans working from home. 

Internet costs can also be factored into WFH expenses. On average, Americans spent about $120 a month on their Internet and cable bills in 2022 so far, according to Doxo’s data, about on par with what U.S. households spent pre-pandemic. That can vary as some workers opted to upgrade their internet connection during the pandemic—making that monthly cost continually higher too. 

Cost of commuting is increasing too

While Americans might be spending more for electricity, there’s no denying that soaring prices at the gas pump are taking an even bigger bite out of Americans’ budgets. Fortune calculated the average cost for gas for a five-day work commute was roughly $140 in May, based on average gas prices from AAA, average commute mileage, and typical fuel efficiency for a car. That’s compared to the …….

Source: https://fortune.com/2022/06/05/work-from-home-or-return-to-office-which-saves-you-money/

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