Boss brings workforce back to office to swerve soaring energy costs

Energy bills: Couple discuss the increase in their prices

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A marketing agency boss from Scotland has secured plans reopen an office space after admitting the growing cost of energy bills left him feeling the pinch. Colin Mckellar, had been working from home since the pandemic, but has taken the plunge to rent a new workspace in a bid to lower his monthly outgoings. The dad-of-one, from Ardrossan on Scotland’s west coast, decided to coincide the big change with a house move to Kilmarnock, near Glasgow. The new deal will see heating, air conditioning and lighting the premises come under one monthly payment which also includes the hire of the space.

He told “We’ve been working from home for the last three years. So it’s going to be great to be able to get back into an office again. And, because we’re moving house, we’re moving to a larger town, and with more office space, so we thought, let’s get an office at the same time.”

He admitted that working from over the past year had meant that he had a high energy consumption, adding: “And that’s another reason why we’re moving into the office. It’s a fully serviced office to the heating, and everything’s included in your rent. So we should save a fair bit just from being out of the house from 9am to 5pm.

“I mean, we’ve tried to be quite sparing with the heating. So we have it come on in the morning at 8am and go off at 11am – and then comes on again at roundabout 4.30pm to 7pm.

But even with consumption in mind, Mr Mckellar’s at-home energy bills have soared to “crazy” levels. “It’s still probably £6 a day,” he added. “It’s crazy. When you think before all this stuff happened, our bills were maybe £180 a month for electricity and gas. And now it is close to £400.”

Mr McKellar is no stranger to being frugal with energy-guzzling appliances, and even took part in the National Grid’s Demand Flexibility Service, which is a scheme aimed at balancing the grid during times when electricity supplies are scarce. 

On Monday and Tuesday last week, he took part in Octopus Energy’s Savings Sessions scheme, which incentivises households with smart meters to cut energy use when required to help the National Grid and prevent blackouts. 

This includes getting participants to stop using energy-hungry household items such as tumble dryers and ovens during peak periods, and saving money on bills in the process. He added that he was also a part of the trial run that Octopus held last October, adding that the experience during the trial was “exactly the same as the last two days, it was great”.

Mr McKellar, who lives with his wife, diminished any picture of them both sitting in the dark during the hour – but instead said he found them relaxing and took to reading a book to pass the time.

He added: “So we’ve actually done it for five days, I think, including the trials, and in those five days, we’ve saved up probably about £27. “What we would do is we would make sure that all of the big energy-hungry stuff is turned off.

“We turn all the lights off in the rest of the house, then just go into the bedroom, put two little side lamps on which run bulbs that are really energy efficient and just read books, and have a chat all that stuff.”

Colin added that he and his wife lost track of time and actually sat with the power lowered for almost two hours, describing it as “relaxing” to have all the appliances off. 

He said: “We kind of didn’t want to go back, you didn’t want to pick your phone up. The scheme really made me think a lot about how immediate everything has to be, and how wasteful everyone is at the moment. In this day and age, I think everyone could learn a little bit from it.

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“There are so many devices in our house that are connected to the electricity that weren’t there before, like computers, TVs, Alexa all that sort of stuff.”

He “100 percent” recommended other households to sign up for the scheme, particularly young people, adding that “doing this does change people’s habits” by making them less wasteful. 

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