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VIDEO: UBCO study exposes a hidden cost that comes with working from home

In a post-pandemic world, more employers are opting to work at home.

But, it could be costing those workers in ways they may not have considered.

Research at UBC Okanagan shows that workers are taking on increased energy expenses at home.

"During COVID there has been a significant increase in home energy consumption," said Dr. Mahmudur Fatmi.

Dr. Fatmi is the principal investigator at UBCO’s Integrated Transportation Research Laboratory.

He led a team of researchers who took a close look at daily in-home activity to compare pre-pandemic and pandemic behaviour as a way to project residential energy consumption.

They found a bump in energy use, and we all know energy isn't cheap.

"That means there is an increase in costs and that falls on the employees."

Researchers identified a 30 percent increase in daily average residential energy consumption during the pandemic and according to their modelling, a 12 percent increase post-pandemic.

For money-conscious workers, it's something to consider before you choose to work at home.

"Absolutely, when we were working at the workplace, it was the employers taking the burden of the energy costs."

Dr. Fatmi said it's worth considering before choosing this kind of employment model.

"It has its benefits," he said, "and it has its costs."

He hopes that this study can play a role in community design as our work arrangements evolve.

“These findings help us better understand the relationship between in-home activities and transportation demand and the associated residential energy consumption," said Dr. Fatmi.

In their next phase of research, Dr. Fatmi and his team will extend their modelling to include how demographics, residential choice and transportation have impacted emissions and energy consumption during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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