A guide to energy efficiency for business

Taking a few simple energy efficiency steps can have big benefits for businesses of all types. These are the key moves to make.

Whatever the nature of your business, chances are your current energy bills are higher than you’d like them to be.

Most commercial buildings within the City of Sydney were not designed with energy efficiency in mind. That’s because electricity and gas in Australia were relatively cheap for many years. “But now, because electricity and gas prices are a lot higher, businesses do really need to be smart about energy,” said Holly Taylor, Senior Advisor, Policy and Partnerships at the Energy Efficiency Council.

The good news is that most businesses can significantly improve their energy efficiency with relatively little effort. To get you started, we’ve gathered information about how the 4 main types of businesses operating within the City can get smart about their energy use.

1. Commercial office

  • Overhaul your lighting. If you haven’t already, upgrade your office lighting to energy efficient and long-lasting LEDs to save money and cut down on maintenance. The NSW government offers lighting incentives for business under its Energy Saver scheme. Creating a “lights off” office culture can also have a big impact on your usage – check the CitySwitch guide for details.

  • Adjust your climate control. Overheating and overcooling your office can be both costly and detrimental to productivity. Consider adjusting your temperature set-points – there’s more information here. If you’re interested in doing this, the City of Sydney’s Building Tune-Up Program (see below) could be for you.

  • Reduce your water consumption. Adding flow restrictors on taps to reduce hot water consumption can have a noticeable effect on your bills. If you’re interested in doing this, the City of Sydney’s Building Tune-Up Program (see below) could be for you.

  • Get your office rated. Ready to be more ambitious? Consider getting your office NABERS rated to learn more about your energy use and identify areas for improvement. Also consider the City of Sydney’s ratings and assessment grants, which support companies to undertake this work.

2. Accommodation and entertainment

  • Pay attention to climate control. If you operate an accommodation or entertainment business, heating and cooling could account for up to 75% of your current energy bill. Adjustments to your climate control, such as tweaking your temperature set-points, can make a big difference. Check details of the City’s Building Tune-Up Program, below.

  • Purchase energy efficient equipment. When you buy new equipment such as fridges and washing machines, consider the ongoing running costs, not just the upfront purchase price. The most energy efficient equipment might not be the cheapest to purchase but it will be the cheapest to operate, saving you money in the long-run. Refer to the Energy Rating Label when you shop.

3. Retail tenancies

  • Upgrade your HVAC. It’s likely that your HVAC systems use more energy than anything else, so it’s worth upgrading to the most energy efficient option. The NSW government offers good rebates to businesses that want to upgrade.

  • Optimise your lighting. After HVAC, your next biggest energy cost is probably lighting. Modern LED lighting is warmer and more flattering than it used to be, so consider upgrading. The NSW government offers lighting incentives under its Energy Saver scheme.

4. Light industrial

  • Reduce equipment running costs. Small changes to how you run your equipment can slash your energy bills:
  • Consider the feasibility of running your equipment during off-peak electricity times

  • Try to reduce your peak kVA demand to save money

  • Train staff to switch off equipment when not required

  • Modify motors, pumps and fans so that they become more energy efficient (e.g., install variable speed drivers on motors to allow for soft starts and to improve plant efficiency at partial loads). Rebates are available for this work.

Where to find support

The NSW government’s Energy Saver website contains further information for businesses about energy efficiency. Many industry associations have also begun compiling sector-specific information, so it’s worth checking your relevant body.

Want an energy audit of your business? Then consider applying for a City of Sydney ratings and assessment grant – these help organisations undertake energy ratings and audits for the first time.

Building Tune-Up Program

You could also consider the City of Sydney’s free Building Tune-Up Program, which supports building owners and facility managers to introduce cost-effective building performance improvements. The program covers energy efficiency, data analytics and more.

Energy efficiency and rooftop solar

If you’re planning to install rooftop solar, consider implementing energy efficiency measures beforehand. This is because reducing your energy use may mean you can install a smaller – and therefore cheaper – solar system than you may have otherwise.

Even if you’ve already got solar up and running, reducing your electricity use is always a good idea, particularly if it leaves you with excess solar energy you can sell back to the grid.

Optimising your solar setup can save you even more money

One of the best ways to reduce your energy costs is to make sure your solar system is operating efficiently. To learn more about optimising your rooftop solar system, check out the following article.

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