Empowering the Freelance Economy

How can freelancers cut down on rising energy costs?

Rebecca Thompson, owner of The Sea Glass Company is making changes to cut down on energy costs.
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The latest ONS report has revealed that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting people living in the most deprived areas of England the hardest. Many of the self-employed are finding rising costs, especially energy bills, a major thorn in their personal and business finances. What are they doing about it?

Amit Patel, adviser at Welling-based mortgage broker, Trinity Finance, says the cost-of-living crisis is a “ticking time bomb waiting to explode, except for the wealthy.”

Patel says, “This Government has been in charge for over a decade and still blames others for the decisions they have made. The most at risk right now are the vulnerable people in society left to fend for themselves.”

The broker believes that the logic behind the Bank of England increasing the base rate to stop people spending is “flawed”.

“The majority of the population is only spending money on food, heating, rent, mortgage payments and the necessities in life. Each rate increase has ramifications further down the road. How many deaths will it take before the penny drops and this Government wakes up and smells the coffee? Enough is enough,” he says.

Is it time to work in cafes and libraries to cut down on costs?

Freelancers that live in older properties are not only feeling squeezed by rising costs but frozen out of their homes.

Rebecca Thompson, owner of The Sea Glass Company: relayed her situation and what she is doing to ease the impact of rising costs, like heating bills.

“We live in an old house and after originally paying over £250 a month for gas and electricity, we are now paying over £450 a month on a fixed rate and that’s just to take the chill away, it’s by no means warm,” says Thompson.

“If it’s like this for us, there will be many vulnerable people out there who will be suffering, but not saying anything,” she says.

After the shocking revelation of seeing their smart meter at £110 last week for daring to have it at 18.5 degrees, they have now turned it down to 14 degrees.

She explained: “We used to average about £60 per week in the winter months. As business owners, we work from home 70% of the week and once we have gathered all the info, we are going to look at whether it would be cheaper to be less home-based and more cafe/business hub/library based, taking into consideration the cost of transport and parking versus being warm enough to work. Due to the nature of what we do, it’s not always an option.”

Spreadsheets can help monitor your spending

They are being proactive though and doing “anything that will keep us warm and reduce our costs”.

“We are going to create a spreadsheet and monitor the cost of our daily activities. e.g. washing clothes, making coffee on the stovetop, showering, number of lights etc. We have bought one heater for the rooms we base ourselves in to take the chill off when we need to, hot water bottles have been ordered, as well as thermals, fingerless gloves for typing and extra blankets.”

They are worried about how they will cope with mortgage payments when their fixed-rate mortgage ends in the next couple of months and their fixed rate for gas and electricity ending in April, ready for the next price increase.

“We’ve decided to come off our direct debit in April 2023 and go onto monthly meter readings instead. It’s too scary to do it in the winter unless we can significantly reduce our usage with the information we are currently gathering. Worrying times ahead,” said Thompson.

Energy saving tips

  • If you work from home, take the chill off first thing in the morning by having the heating on for 1.5 hours while your household gets ready for the day and off to work or school. Then use a pluggable space heater in just the rooms that you work in during the day. Top 5 Portable Heaters 2022 (topconsumerguide.com). You may have to transfer your home office to a smaller room so the heat is contained.
  • Keep your feet warm to distribute body heat: have a rug under your feet, a blanket on your lap, and wear socks and slippers.
  • Invest in a fleece jacket to wear indoors.
  • Keep office doors closed to keep heat in all other doors closed so when the heating comes on in the evening heat is not lost.
  • Invest in draught excluders and thermal or wadding-lined curtains for front doors or passages, especially in older homes with draughty areas. You can get reasonably priced curtain rods in places like Wilkinson. Sometimes you can find secondhand lined curtains in charity shops or in specialist second-hand shops like The Curtain Exchange if you are looking for something more high-end. You can get sticky hem tape to shorten some curtains if necessary. All you need is an iron – just keep to the material’s heat setting.
  • Take your laptop to work in public libraries to keep your heating and electricity bills down.
  • Look into co-working spaces where you can conduct meetings while keeping tighter control on heating and electricity costs.
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