4 ways to make your business more energy efficient

Explore the alternatives before making decisions around energy use

Follow some - or all - of these steps to reduce your business energy usage.

With Australian businesses collectively spending more than $19 billion on electricity in 2014-15, the cost of energy can be a burden – however necessary it may be.

While keeping equipment and machinery in top working order and training staff on how to use it properly can help minimise waste and improve profitability, the following four areas could help reduce your business’ energy bills further.

Lighting

For some businesses, lighting can account for up to 50 per cent of energy usage. According to the New South Wales Government’s Department of Environment and Heritage, upgrading to energy efficient lighting options and finding smarter ways to keep workplaces safe yet appropriately lit could reduce energy usage by as much as 80 per cent.

Take advantage of free natural light. For workspaces that have a large number of lights that are occupied occasionally, investigate the installation of sensors and lighting control systems as these reduce energy waste by only lighting areas when they’re in use. 

Hot water

According to Sustainability Victoria, steam generation systems can account for 34 per cent of all energy used in production, while process heating systems can make up 17 per cent of total industrial energy use.

Choosing the right hot water system can optimise productivity and improve the energy efficiency of a business, the same way lagged pipes can reduce heat loss.

A thorough understanding of the full extent of your end-to-end requirements is required to find the most suitable option for your business. Do your research, speak to a professional and come armed with goals for reducing energy consumption and expenditure.

And don’t underestimate the benefits of regular maintenance. From the heater unit to its network of pipes, proper maintenance of the entire system alongside small improvements can deliver ongoing energy savings as significant as 10 per cent.

Refrigeration

It’s estimated that commercial refrigeration accounts for 4 per cent of emissions from Australia’s energy sector; for those businesses that use the technology, it also accounts for a large portion of their energy bills.

Whether your business needs refrigerated cabinets, walk-in cool rooms, ice makers or industrial cold-storage, investing upfront in equipment with a higher star rating will yield greater energy usage savings in the years that follow.

Use and maintain the equipment properly. Keep an eye – and ear – out for faulty seals and suspicious sounds, install equipment in a suitable ventilated spot, and stock strategically to reduce the stress on compressors.

Heating and cooling

Keeping your people, customers, products and machinery comfortable can be a big job, with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) electricity consumption often accounting for around 40 per cent of total building consumption. The cost of maintenance can also add up.

Moderating the temperature control system and keeping it in good running order is the ideal way to save energy, reduce emissions and cut energy bills. Set your system’s temperature below 20 degrees in winter and above 24 degrees in summer.

Every degree you go against this seasonal range can add 10 per cent more to your running costs.

Before investing in a new system, seek advice from an expert who can ask the right questions about the needs of your business – as there’s a long list of options to choose from.

For heating, there’s a range of new, highly-efficient options, including ducted heating, five-star rating ducted gas heaters, infrared heaters, boiler-driven heating and gas-flued heating options.

When choosing a new cooling system, aim for the highest Energy Star rating possible; paying more upfront can mean more energy savings over the life of your product.

Finally, there are a number of state-based schemes that can assist businesses with replacing low efficiency products – such as lights, motors, refrigerator cabinets and heating and cooling systems – with high efficiency, low energy alternatives. Explore the alternatives before making a final decision.

The experts in business and finance deserve the experts in energy. From renewable solar options to specialist lighting efficiency services, learn how hundreds of Australian businesses are benefiting from smarter energy solutions from AGL.

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