Our electric company sent out a nice little passive-aggressive note comparing our usage to the rest of the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, we were significantly higher. (Gee, with four people home all day? Whodathunk it?)
This got me thinking. Plenty of bloggers, including myself, are quick to praise the money-saving benefits of working from home: no office attire, no commute, etc. That said, there are some surprising hidden costs that go along with a home office.
High(er) speed internet
Pretty much everyone has high speed connections these days, but if you work from home, you probably want a faster connection than most people.
If, like me, you work remotely for a company, there can be an added expense of a static IP. Each time my IP address changes, I’m booted out of the system. So I have to pay for a static one. When I had DSL, that meant an extra $5 a month. Not huge, but every little bit counts, right?
When we moved, I had to switch to the local cable company, and static IPs are only offered on business accounts. Which means a minimum of $70 a month.
When you leave for work, you probably turn your lights off. Why light an empty house? Unfortunately, it’s harder when you work from home.
Our house doesn’t get any direct sunlight, and ambient light isn’t quite enough. That means we need at least a couple of lights on at any given time. It’s not like lighting is a major energy drain, but it does add up — as does going through light bulbs faster.
When you leave for work, you probably turn the thermostat down (winter) or up (summer). Including commute time, more than a third of the day will see your house with less-than-comfortable temperatures.
Meanwhile, someone working from home needs the HVAC on all the time. At peak hours, no less.
Keeping with the utilities theme, you use more water when you’re at home all day.
Think about the bathroom breaks you take at work. It’s probably a decent amount if you drink the recommended amount of water each day. Now think about paying for every flush.
In the same vein, someone working from home will use significantly more toilet paper. Especially if you’re female and, again, drink a lot of water.
The food is just there, waiting for me. And hey, I have a little downtime from emails and… suddenly I’m making popcorn I really don’t need. Or slicing up some cheese for some crackers. Or other things that I wouldn’t eat if I were at an office.
If you’re at home all day, you’re probably a little starved for company. Assuming you don’t have fatigue like me, you’re more likely to go out just so that you can be with other people.
There are probably more, but those are the ones that were off the top of my head. I’m a little surprised how many there are.
Let me be clear: I’m in no way claiming that the costs outweigh the benefits. Working from home is still a major money saver. I just think it’s interesting how often these factors are overlooked.
Do you work from home? What extra costs do you incur?