Alesia Gerassimenko is pursuing a PhD on 'Corporate Finance' at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Solvay Business School at the VUB. The energy crisis offers her - oh irony - a prime opportunity to unpack her scientific expertise. Take advantage of her knowledge to cut energy bills at home.
What is the best tip to mitigate the painful rise in energy prices?
It doesn't sound very creative, but turning down the heating at home is the simplest and most effective way. One degree down already saves seven per cent in costs. So going from 21 degrees to 19 will already save you 240 euros a year if you assume current price levels.
Prices will remain high, though. Although the market is very volatile, you can count on that. Especially now that the cold weather has made its appearance.
But I will add an extra tip: don't heat every room and close doors to keep the heat in. This also applies to the office, of course. At home, an extra duvet in the bedroom also does a lot. Whether the same is possible for the office I doubt.
Do you have any more practical recommendations?
Going to work together on the same day. Actually, the VUB already indirectly encourages us to do so by turning down the heater on Mondays and Fridays. But there's no harm in stressing it again. After all, we stuck around at home after corona. Apparently, we find that comfortable and it saves travel time.
Another alternative is to work together in a café or workspace. What I haven't heard much about, but might be an idea, is for some people to work at someone's house. That saves heating and you also motivate each other.
Another angle to save the wallet is to look for a cheaper energy supplier. Does that make sense?
Yes, but it is not easy. Every supplier is expensive, but there are still big differences between them. For example: For gas this summer, you paid 4437 euros at one and 3498 at another. That's 25 per cent. For electricity, the same story: at one, 2409 euros and at another, 1913. Surely you could buy a few extra coats for that.
But it is difficult, you say.
Indeed, the energy suppliers have made it confusing. As a consumer, you therefore cannot see the wood for the trees. They do this deliberately, so that you stay where you are and don't switch to a competitor.
A good method to puzzle it out are comparison engines with the GREC label. You can find an overview of these online, including price comparisons with regional regulators. (Only in Dutch)
Are we financially literate enough?
That depends from person to person. Some are more knowledgeable than others. The best advice is: immerse yourself in it. When it comes to myself, I feel; the more I immerse myself, the more I feel like I don't know anything yet. There are plenty of scientific articles online. You have to be careful with newspapers anyway, they are not always reliable. The government could also make more information available, for instance with a 'one-stop shop'.
What measures have you taken at home?
We turned on the heating as late as possible. Fortunately, we rent a completely renovated flat, which is also well insulated. But still, I often go outside to have a coffee and work at the café. Other than that, it's the normal stuff: the washing machine on eco-wash, for example. A little unusual, perhaps, is that when cooking pasta, I turn off the heat for the last two minutes. But maybe I'm a professional idiot in that.
What measures have you taken at work?
Little, the university itself has already taken the measures. The only thing is that we can come to the office more on the same day. Then again, it is unfortunate that few colleagues are present. Not only because physical presence can make work easier, but also because it is mentally healthy. Working from home is also lonely, and that is a slow poison.