Energy Consumption: Does Telecommuting Really Save Money?

Among the energy saving measures announced in early October 2022, the government recommends the use of teleworking in administrations. But does this measure really reduce energy consumption? For its detractors, it would only be a transfer of electricity and heating expenses from the company to the employees. Let's decipher a measure that is being debated.

Potential energy savings for businesses

The Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) has been looking at the energy savings from remote working.

In a study, it estimated that the use of Telecommuting results in Energy savings of 19% for companies. But this result is only achieved if all employees work from home on the same day.

That's why, among the energy-saving measures announced on October 6, 2022 to avoid power outages this winter, the government advocated the use of Telecommuting on specific dates such as bridges. This would allow companies to save on heating and electricity over several days.

A mixed energy balance

According to another RTE study on France's energy futures by 2050, Telecommuting is a possible lever for achieving energy sobriety. But it only has a real impact under certain conditions, such as the ability to turn off central heating in an entire building.

If only some of the employees work remotely and the building remains half full, it is impossible to turn off the heating and lighting and thus achieve significant energy savings.

Yet, in companies, some employees telecommute while others are well present in the offices. This explains why the energy balance of teleworking is generally mixed.

The benefit that can be expected from it varies enormously from company to company. The Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, has therefore asked each company to negotiate internally in order to find the formula that will allow it to achieve the most energy savings.

The organization of work is to be rethought with, for example, the use of flex office (a formula where offices are no longer assigned to this or that employee) or the grouping of teleworked days over 4 consecutive days

Other expenses to consider

Moreover, as the experience of the first containment from March to May 2020 proved, working from home leads to an increase of nearly 30% in household energy consumption. To offset this expense, the government has announced that civil servants who telework will receive a 15% increased allowance.

When one wishes to evaluate the Energy savings made thanks to telecommuting, one must always qualify one's statement because telecommuting entails other energy expenses such as :
- the use of videoconferencing
- the realization of other constrained journeys (taking the children to school) or leisure (going away for the weekend).

However, according to ADEME, certain rebound effects can mitigate or even cancel the energy benefit of telecommuting.

The Minister of Ecological Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher announced on RTL launch an experiment by closing four buildings of his ministry on the weekend of All Saints' Day to 'see if Energy savings are made' and to 'collect the feeling of employees on their consumption', before a possible extension of this measure to private sector employees.

An effective solution to reduce commuting

In this mixed record, the only certainty is the impact of working from home on transportation. The use of telecommuting does indeed reduce or even completely eliminate commuting.

According to ADEME calculations, a day of telecommuting allows a 69% reduction in the volume of employee travel, compared to a day when the employee goes to the office.

The ADEME also calculated that the generalization of telecommuting would avoid 3.3 million trips daily, or 42 million kilometers!

As you can see, when it comes to energy sobriety, there is no obvious solution. Everyone's good will is essential to achieve a global reduction of our energy expenses.

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: George Milton on Pexels
Tags: telecommuting, energy, energy savings, energy consumption, commuting, sobriety, energy balance, teleworking, remote working, telework, videoconferencing, leisure, rebound effects, Ecological Transition, RTL, Experiment, All Saints, consumption, private sector, civil servants, Containment, winter, The agency, RTE, France, Potential energy, futures, lever, energy saving, telecommute, Labor, central heating,
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