Credit: concept symbolizing economic efficiency of power-saving bulb
The rising cost of electricity, and hence energy bills, is shrinking profits for Australian SMEs. While challenging to combat, it’s not impossible.
Like any resource, the first step to energy efficiency (and lower bills), is understanding how energy is being used. Which devices, fixtures, or appliances are using most of the power? When is the energy being used? What is the energy being used for? Answering these questions gives SME owners line-of-sight into where their energy usage is being wasted.
For example, Jasper Coffee measured how much energy each of its coffee roasters consumes in real-time. By monitoring the consumption pattern, Jasper Coffee was able to better organise its roasting cycle so that energy wasn’t being used on tasks such as unnecessarily warming up between batches. Monitoring energy use also revealed that certain high-load equipment was being left on overnight and on weekends when the cafe was closed.
It’s important to remember that just because prices go up, doesn’t mean bills have to be higher. If SME owners take a few simple steps to change the way their business uses energy, they can mitigate any increases to its cost.
Here are five easy ways to reduce energy consumption:
1. Swap older light bulbs with LED lights. This can save 50 to 80 per cent on lighting costs. One warehouse we meter found out that it was spending $12,000 more per year than needed.
2. Adjust the air-conditioning thermostat by just one degree towards ambient (up in summer, down in winter) for a savings of between 8 and 11 per cent on air-conditioning costs.
3. Fixing seals and handles on cool rooms and fridges can have a 25 per cent impact on its running cost. One of our western Sydney clubs saved $2500 pa after fixing a broken $500 handle on its cool room. It had been broken for eight years, that’s a wastage of $20,000.
4. Turning loads off at night will reduce baseload energy that would otherwise be wasted every hour that a business is closed, which is around 5000 hours pa out of 8760 hours pa. Switching off 10 twin fluorescent office lights at the end of the day would save $540.00 pa.
5. Removing bar fridges and investing in one big fridge will save $200.00 pa.
Small changes stack up to significantly reduce an SME’s energy bill. The problem is, without better data visualization and insights into the specifics of their energy usage, most business owners don’t know how to take the first step. That’s why it’s important for the energy sector to continue innovating and investing in visualising data in a way that makes it accessible to all businesses.