Covid19 has forced changes in working patterns across the UK. Suddenly home and remote working and ‘communications platforms’ such as Zoom and MS Teams are part of many people’s lives.
Family homes have been reorganised to accommodate work spaces; spare bedrooms have been converted, kitchen tables put to multiple other uses. Long-term changes are predicted, with less reliance on daily office attendance and increased demand for ‘work-life balance’.
It may sound attractive in the spring and summer months but for the rest of the year, ‘WFH’ will require heat and power in spare bedrooms and kitchens at times when none was previously needed. And the increased electricity and broadband charges are more likely to fall on workers than employers – at least initially.
Solar PV soared in popularity as householders invested in rooftop panels to convert sunshine to free, green electricity, then demand tailed off due to reductions in Government subsidy. Now it’s on the rise again, due partly to utility costs and technical advances, and the trend could gain further traction as WFH makes houses more densely occupied during daylight hours, when solar PV is more effective.
Galbraith has a detailed understanding of the renewable energy market of the need for households to ensure adequate energy in a fast-changing market.
Broadband was once considered an option but a robust, reliable connection has since become essential for home workers. Installation and monthly fees may, or may not, be met by employers.
It’s not clear yet whether and to what extent energy-efficient homes with a good connection will command a premium in the sales and lettings markets. But energy is unlikely to become cheaper and the potential to offset those costs can only become more attractive.