As the temperature rises over the summer months, so too do many businesses’ energy bills. Business owners ramp up their air conditioning systems and other equipment used to keep their premises and goods cool, and that can leave them with post-summer bill shock.
However, there is a range of steps business can take to be more energy efficient, and better manage their consumption over the hotter months. This also has the added benefit of keeping carbon emissions lower, a key part of many businesses’ plans to target net zero.
From a cost management perspective, the best first step is to plan ahead and start preparing before we enter the summer peak demand period. Having an energy management plan in place can help businesses even-out their energy costs over the year, rather than have significant peaks and troughs.
For those businesses without a management plan, we have outlined some energy savings tips below.
As businesses continue to welcome staff and customers back onto their premises, there will be a temptation to keep the air conditioning systems running on overdrive. However, using air conditioners more efficiently can have a significant impact on usage and costs.
- Adjusting the on/off timers: where the morning or evening is unexpectedly cooler, change the unit’s automatic start and finish times.
- Change the default temperature settings: temperatures in the range of 21 to 24 degrees are typically comfortable. Lowering the default setting by even one degree can reduce the amount of energy used by up to seven per cent.
- Use the recycle or economy functions: cooling air recycled from the inside or using the economy cycle, or fan mode, can achieve significant energy savings.
- Regularly service the units: remove filters and dust to make sure the air conditioners are functioning at their most efficient level.
Fridges, freezers and other equipment
The equipment used for cooling goods can be a large contributor to energy consumption. Ensuring that equipment is as energy efficient as possible (check the ratings) and is fit-for-purpose is a crucial, yet often overlooked first step. Other things to consider include:
- Keeping fridge and cool room doors closed: encouraging staff to limit their time in cool rooms and ensure that sealing and door materials are in good working order.
- Ensure fridges stocked: underfilling fridges and cool rooms can lead to cold air escaping when doors are opened, which can increase energy consumption.
- Regularly maintain appliances: to make they are operating efficiently, clean fridge and freezer motors and fans, and defrost freezers to avoid excess ice.
- Replace old equipment: upgrading outdated or old equipment like fridges, compressors and air conditioners can ensure you are choosing the most energy efficient options.
Inefficient lighting and unnecessary use can lead to mounting bills. Staying in control of lighting and harnessing daylight can help drive usage down.
- Use timers or turn it off: make sure that lighting and other electricity is not being used when there are no staff or customers on the premises. Using timers can be an excellent way to avoid forgetting.
- Using sensors to take advantage of sunlight: fixed lighting schedules can waste energy where sunlight is a viable alternative and smart lighting that can dim when there is more sunlight can help. Sensors around the premises of a workspace could also be used to turn off lighting if there is sufficient sunlight.
These are just some basic tips that can help businesses offset the increased energy use over the coming summer. However, there are a range of other measures that businesses can adopt to help reduce costs and emissions. For example, utilising rooftops for solar generation or optimising existing systems, and maximising the investment through using Energy Action’s Solar Auctions.
Energy Action specialises in achieving significant cost savings from implementing tailored efficiency strategies and has helped businesses save thousands on their energy bills. If you would like to discuss how you can save energy and reduce costs over summer, call 1300 553 551 or visit https://www.energyaction.com.au.