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Is your business making these 3 common energy mistakes?

Alan Benn is an energy auditor. He gives people advice on how to reduce their environmental impact by improving their energy and water efficiency. We put Alan to work auditing a range of not-for-profit organisations for our Synergy Community Solar Fund solar giveaway and want to share some of his insights.

“When I visit a business, I take a look at the premises and all appliances, asking questions about how the appliances are used to determine where the majority of the energy and water is being used – and whether something can be done about it,” says Alan.

In the course of his work, Alan has found these three common mistakes many businesses make.

Energy mistake #1: The glass fridge
It can be great to have transparency as one of your core business values – but not when it comes to your fridge.

“Glass-fronted fridges are very inefficient,” says Alan. “A typical double-door glass-fronted fridge, usually just used for drinks or in a kitchen, can use 10 units of energy per day and cost $1,000 per year to operate. This is six to seven times more than a standard solid-doored domestic fridge.” 

“These glass-fronted fridges are very common in school canteens and a lot of the money raised by the school community ends up going towards paying for the fridges to operate.” 

Alan’s fix:  “If you don’t really need the transparent door, choose a fridge with a high energy-efficiency rating and you could see significant savings in your business energy bills.”

Energy mistake #2: Lighting up the skies
“Lighting is usually responsible for only about 5% of the average home bill – but about 30% of a business electricity bill,” says Alan. 

“Think of how many lights the average room at home has and compare this to the average office. There’s often a grid of many fluorescent lights in the ceiling which are on for many hours per day.”

Alan’s fix: “T8 fluorescents can now be replaced with LED tubes, which could halve the lighting bill in a business. Often light tubes can simply be removed as there is too much light in many areas – especially in corridors.”

Energy mistake #3: Battles of the air-conditioning
If you’ve ever worked in any kind of large office setting, you’ll know the issues that temperature control can create. What many people may not know is that the thermostat setting has a very big effect on the amount of energy used. Electricity costs can go up 10% for every degree the thermostat goes up in winter or down in summer.

“Managers know that there are often a large number of complaints about the air-conditioning and staff are very sensitive to this,” add Alan. “Everyone seems to feel the temperature differently and so for example, the thermostat will be run too high in winter to keep the cold ones happy while the rest of the staff have to take off jackets, jumpers etc.”

Alan’s fix: “Put signs next to thermostats, explaining that it’s company policy to set the temperature at no lower than 24C in summer and no higher than 21C in winter. Management could provide desk fans for anyone who is too hot and lap blankets – even heated ones – for anyone who feels too cold in winter.”