With commercial electricity prices continuing to rise across Australia, getting your business’s energy costs under control is essential. While major infrastructure upgrades require capital investment, many practical low-cost tactics can provide rapid returns. This guide shares 10 expert-recommended initiatives to start reducing your business electricity bills.
- Understand the factors affecting business energy costs.
- Implement energy-efficient practices and technologies.
- Compare energy plans to find the best rates.
- Monitor and analyse energy consumption regularly.
- Consider renewable energy options for long-term savings.
10 Ways Businesses Can Reduce Electricity Bills
Adjust HVAC Setpoints
- Program thermostats to float to higher cooling setpoints and lower heating setpoints during unoccupied hours like nights and weekends.
- Widen setpoint deadbands so cooling/heating activates less frequently.
- Implement thermal comfort expanding measures like ceiling fans to enable wider setpoints.
- Zone off low occupancy areas like warehouses for looser temperature control.
Power Down Idle Devices
- Install smart power strips to cut phantom drain when devices are off.
- Use energy management software to remotely control device sleep/shutdown settings across locations.
- Consolidate printers, chargers and other equipment into centralized locations for easier master switching.
- Label light switches and post reminders to encourage manually switching off equipment.
Upgrade Inefficient Lighting
- Upgrade older fluorescent and incandescent lighting to LEDs with advanced controls like occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting and dimming.
- Retrofit exterior lighting like parking areas and signage to solar powered LEDs with motion detectors.
- Take advantage of commercial lighting rebates from federal and state governments.
Fix Air Leaks
- Improve weather sealing on doors and windows with caulking, weatherstripping and film.
- Seal openings around pipes, vents, wiring and ducts traversing exterior walls or running through unconditioned spaces.
- Insulate any ductwork or equipment located in unconditioned spaces like attics to prevent leakage.
Optimise Equipment Timings
- Use integrated building management systems to optimise HVAC, lighting and other equipment runtimes based on occupancy schedules and usage patterns.
- Stagger production shift start-up sequences to minimise simultaneous peak demand.
- Schedule high electrical demand processes like welding for evenings when time-of-use rates are cheaper.
Enroll in Demand Response
- Shed non-essential loads like decorative lighting, reheating, irrigation pumps and HVAC in vacant zones.
- Pre-cool spaces before event periods to minimise AC runtime when curtailing.
- Leverage automation and Internet-of-Things controls to quickly enact load shedding with minimal disruption.
Add Onsite Generation
- Install solar PV to offset high daytime loads. Add battery storage to shift solar power to evenings.
- Consider renewable microgrids using sources like solar, wind, hydro, biomass, fuel cells.
- Leverage cogeneration or trigeneration if needing substantial onsite heat/cooling to maximise efficiency.
- Upgrade lighting, HVAC, building envelope, pumps, motors and insulation. Leverage subsidies.
- Optimise building management and equipment control settings for efficiency specific to your usage patterns.
- Monitor performance and tweak systems to maintain peak efficiency. Keep equipment maintained.
Compare Supply Rates
- Use online comparison tools to identify better market offers from competitors routinely.
- Work with consultants who access wholesale pricing and run competitive tenders to get retailer bids.
- Negotiate better rates leveraging your loyalty, usage history and contract length.
Monitor Usage Analytics
- Install interval meters and building management analytics to identify usage waste and optimisation opportunities.
- Maintain a regularly updated kW/kWh inventory of all equipment and systems to keep tracking efficiency.
- Use analytics capabilities like waste heat mapping, load disaggregation and tariff simulation to guide reductions.
Why Managing Electricity Costs Matters
Controlling energy offers multiple benefits:
- Improves margins in challenging economic environments
- Avoid unexpected cost spikes from rate/usage changes
- Enhances competitiveness and value to customers
- Fuels innovation in efficiency, technology integration and operations
- Promotes a culture of conservation and waste reduction
Areas With Biggest Savings Potential
Look to these top contributors of electricity costs for reduction opportunities:
HVAC - Optimising heating/cooling offers over 25% savings for many buildings.
Lighting - LED upgrades and smart controls can reduce lighting costs 50%+.
Idle Loads - Equipment left on constantly drains up to 10% of energy when idle.
Peak Charges - Shifting peak usage saves up to 20% by avoiding the highest TOU rates.
Supply Management - Regularly shopping rates and using brokers can cut 5-15% of supply charges.
Expert Energy Management Tips
Follow these best practices from specialists to maximise electricity savings:
- Perform regular maintenance on building systems and equipment. A tuned up HVAC system can save 10% or more.
- Phase equipment start-up after outages to prevent demand spikes from simultaneous restart.
- Adjust batch production schedules to sequence high energy processes outside of peak rate windows.
- Right-size HVAC and other systems - oversized units operate inefficiently.
- Use consultants to negotiate better supply contracts through reverse auctions and market timing.
- Install submeters and leverage analytics to optimise high-usage equipment.
- Engage staff by sharing usage insights and offering energy reduction competitions and incentives.
With some savvy analysis, planning and targeted efficiency initiatives, most Australian businesses can substantially reduce energy costs. Maintain momentum on savings through continuous improvements in technology, operations and staff behaviors. Your bottom line will thank you.
What are the easiest first steps to lower business electricity bills?
Basic setpoint changes to HVAC, converting lighting to LEDs, eliminating idle equipment, and encouraging conservation behaviors provide fast returns.
What expertise helps identify electricity savings opportunities?
While staff can manage basic initiatives, energy auditors and consultants provide technical facility assessments and deeper savings recommendations based on specialised expertise.
What government subsidies assist commercial electricity efficiency?
Help includes discounted energy audits, commercial lighting upgrade rebates, HVAC system incentives, and tax deductions on qualifying efficiency investments.
How can I engage staff to help cut electricity usage?
Foster a culture of conservation through newsletters, feedback on impact, competitions, and rewards for energy reduction suggestions and performance against targets.
Where can I access free online tools to compare business electricity rates?
Government-run comparison sites like Energy Compare allow modeling costs across plans tailored to your usage.