Smart ways to maximise energy savings for Australia business / organisations
COVID-19 restrictions are likely to start easing off as individual States and Territories look to implement step 1 of the three step plan announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday 8th May. Before your business / commercial building / institution gets the official green light to reopen, you may want to consider using this downtime strategically to plan for a smarter, more sustainable future with energy conservation measures that can help maximise energy savings.
For businesses of all shapes and sizes adapt to evolving challenges, managing unnecessary energy costs is vital to improve profitability and mitigate risk of increasing energy bills. For certain organisations and governments, maximising energy savings is important for other reasons such as reducing carbon footprint in pursuit of net zero emissions targets.
In this post, we take a look at several ways you can maximise energy savings.
Dial-down demand charges as you Power On
You may already know that energy retailers impose demand charges on utility bills – [if you don’t, now you do] – but what you might not know is that demand charges are calculated based on peak energy usage throughout the entire billing period. So your highest energy usage at a particular point in time during the billing period is used to calculate demand charges for the entire period.
Therefore, as you re-open your facility and start powering up individual appliances, equipment, lighting, air conditioning systems etc, try to do so in a phased approach (individually and not all at once) and wherever possible during off-peak times. If you don’t do this, then the time period where not much energy was used (i.e. during COVID-19 lockdown) could be offset by a sudden flux when everything is turned on again.
Depending on the type of facility you operate and how energy intensive your building services equipment are, the demand charges associated with the peak demand event may be quite significant.
Remember, demand charges are calculated on the basis of the peak demand event irrespective of energy usage prior to or following peak usage.This is very important to consider given most commercial buildings and facilities across Australia have been closed during COVID-19 lockdown.
If the power-up procedure is not carefully managed, there may just be a shocking surprise when the energy bills arrive in the mail.
‘Light’en the load
Lighting can almost amount up to 40% of the average electricity bill. Using this time to switch to LED lighting could reduce energy usage throughout the business and maximise energy savings. If you already have LED fittings installed, consider calling an ESCO to install lighting sensors and controls to optimise energy usage.
Lighting up rooms which aren’t being used is a waste of electricity. Consider moving workspaces to naturally lit areas where possible and installing motion detectors for lighting will help make sure lighting is turned on only when they are needed within a specific working areas.
If you are a manager or owner of an Australian business, there are government rebate schemes in SA, VIC and NSW including generous government grants which can assist businesses fund energy efficiency upgrades to maximise energy cost savings – there are also grant assistance packages available for a limited time
Blinding light and solar heat
Glass panels are beautiful and modern, but they can be a ‘pane’ (pun intended) when it comes to managing energy usage in your office. If your offices or facilities are north facing and have large windows with direct sunlight for most part of the day, consider the following:
- On hot days: close the curtain and blinds to reduce solar load on indoor temperatures and reduce energy load on HVAC systems. Curtains or blinds minimise the heat coming through glass panels or windows and therefore lightening the load on Air Conditioning units – making them cheaper to run to achieve the desired comfort level
- On cold and overcast days (or where solar heat/ solar load is a non issue): conversely, you will need as much natural light and solar heat on cold overcast days to minimise the load on heating systems.
Flip the Switch
Remember to turn off equipment such as computers, printers and copies from the wall when not in use instead of standby power mode, which is a hidden energy usage. Smart plugs or Wifi-enabled power sockets and adapters can allow you to remotely turn off devices at the power points using an smartphone app. Some can be programmed to be turned off and on at certain times; most can even be integrated with voice-activated platforms.
An added benefit of some smart plugs and power sockets is that energy usage can be monitored directly for each device on the app. This strategy would suit smaller offices and businesses, however for larger buildings there are Building Control strategies and Building Management Systems that can be either installed, configured or optimised for energy efficiency.
Get the ‘X-Factor’ (Power Factor Correction)
Power factor correction through PFC systems are a great energy conservation measure as it improves power quality and increases the efficiency of power supply, delivering immediate cost savings on electricity. PFC units can be quite expensive and require qualified specialists at a trusted ESCO to design, install and optimise. You may want to consider taking advantage of the ATO’s instant tax write off of items up to $150,000 if an asset is purchased, installed and used between 12 March and 30 June 2020.
Solar PV has become an extremely popular and common way to reduce energy costs and reduce your reliance on the electricity grid (which is in by and large generated by fossil-fuels).
If you haven’t already, consider installing embedded generation systems at your facilities. Solar PV can cost a small fortune, and while there are plenty of suppliers in the market, Tier-1 ESCOs such as 3E Group with a holistic approach, will be able to optimise your return on investment through:
- analysing your energy load profile and historical trends regarding energy consumption
- exploring all viable energy efficiency measures prior and in addition to solar to reduce baseline consumption and thereby reduce system capacity requirements and costs
- CEC accredited designers, who can configure the optimal solar system layout and system size
- procure and install quality inverters and panels with long-term warranties
As Australian businesses, not for profits and government organisations navigate the COVID-19 situation, it’s important to focus on planning smarter and better ways of controlling costs and reducing carbon emissions. Applying the above strategies can certainly help make a difference to the bottom-line and the environment.
Not sure what to do next or where to start?
3E Group can assist businesses, not for profits and government organisations achieve energy cost savings and sustainability targets. Give us a call or send us a message for a FREE call-back service if you’re looking for:
- An energy conservation strategy
- Energy audits, site assessments or detailed facility studies
- Holistic approach to energy conservation
- An end-to-end turn-key energy projects
- Fit for purpose design and implementation
- Smart building controls and optimisation strategies
- Renewable energy opportunities
- Optimised return on investment
- Assistance with securing government grants and rebates
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOVERNMENT GRANTS FOR FREE ENERGY EFFICIENCY UPGRADES. Your business may be eligible for various government grants. Our free grants assistance package is designed to do all the hard work for you and maximise your chances of success – learn more or register your interest.