Energy saving tips for businesses in turbulent times
Every business and every industry experiences their share of turbulent times. Whether it’s managing the impact of rising business costs, supply chain delays, global issues or other challenges, it’s important to try and maximise your energy efficiency in business and being prepared for your next business energy bill.
Here are some energy saving ideas for businesses which could help you to reduce energy consumption and reduce your energy costs.
Understand your energy bills and patterns
If you’re trying to reduce your business' energy costs, knowing what makes up your electricity and gas bills should be the start of your business energy savings strategy.
If you’re a Synergy customer, learn more about your Synergy energy bill to understand the charges and costs involved. For any other energy bills, check with your retailer for details of your consumption profile, including what contributes to your bill and how much energy your business is using.
Use Synergy My Account for a clear idea of how and when you use your electricity. This way, you can identify your main sources of electricity use at different times of day if you have a smart meter, for example, when you use your:
- Air compressors
- Motors and pumps
- Heating and cooling such as your heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems
Using My Account can also help you to discover your baseline electricity use. This is important so that you can develop an understanding of why this might vary sometimes. This way, you may be able to address any inconsistencies in consumption and make informed decisions to help reduce electricity consumption at your workplace.
Make energy management a business priority
Once you have access to your energy data, you can create an energy management business strategy. By taking a proactive approach to your energy management, you can investigate potential opportunities to reduce energy consumption and optimise your energy use. To increase your business energy efficiency, you might:
- Identify the machinery and equipment that use the most electricity. To do this, look at the kilowatt rate used and multiply this by the hours per day it is used. This will give you consumption data about your machinery which can help you to calculate your business costs.
- Consider minimising interruptions to scheduling. It could be more efficient for you to run certain equipment all day compared to starting it up and shutting it down at several points throughout the day.
- Explore operational changes which could be made without impacting your business. For example, you could make a plan for times you can reduce electricity consumption by turning off equipment when not needed, like overnight and weekends. You could consider encouraging staff to work at home or staggering start times so that your electricity use is spread out, rather than concentrated and causing electrical use spikes at certain times.
- Make the most of your solar power. If you have solar panels installed as part of your business energy efficiency plans, make sure you’re making the most of that energy while it’s being generated by the sun. Usually this is between 10am and 2pm each day here in WA, so check your equipment scheduling to optimise your business' renewable energy the panels generate.
- Get your team involved to help reduce your energy costs. Think about different ways you might encourage your staff to boost your business' energy efficiency. You could experiment with ideas such as a challenge to print less, a roster to check computers and other electrical equipment are switched off when not in use, an agreement to reduce air conditioner and heating use when not required or even just have a sign to remind the last person out to switch off the lights at the end of the workday.
Consider an energy audit or energy metering
If you don’t have the in-house resources or expertise to identify opportunities for business energy savings, you might like to consider investing in an audit through a registered electrician, plumber or energy auditor.
A professional energy audit should provide you with a report identifying how to boost your business energy efficiency, including your best opportunities to reduce energy consumption. You could get help to develop an inventory of your high use items and whether you could benefit from improving or replacing these with more energy efficient appliances or equipment.
If your business operates from a larger site, your energy auditor might recommend installing energy metering for your high use equipment to help your business understand different energy usage behaviours of those pieces of equipment. A registered electrician or plumber could install gas or electricity meters in your equipment. This is generally a simple process but may come at a cost and cause a short-term interruption to your operations – so always factor this into your business costs.
You can generally measure energy use at three different levels with energy metering:
- The facility level to understand how much energy your whole facility is using
- The system level to understand how much energy each system uses. For example, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are made up of sub systems such as chillers, pumps and fans.
- The subsystem level to understand how much energy specific pieces of equipment use.
These levels of energy use can be complex to investigate, so it is important to work with a registered electrician or plumber to work out what you want to measure. They can help you find an energy metering solutions for your business type, budget and your business energy efficiency goals.
Consider energy efficient appliances, maintenance or upgrades
You can use your baseline electricity usage and information from your internal electricity review or energy audit to discover which appliances and equipment are using the most electricity.
Once you know which are adding to your business costs most, you can consider whether they are in need of cleaning, servicing, or repair to make sure they are running as efficiently as possible.
You could consider replacing any electricity-hungry appliances for more energy efficient appliances. This is likely to involve investing more capital in the short term but could make a difference to your business energy costs in the long term.
Your business could be eligible for energy rebates or energy efficiency grants to repair or upgrade your electrical equipment to help improve your business' energy efficiency. For more information visit energy.gov.au and check with your local government to see whether they have any funding or grant opportunities related to energy that your business could be eligible for.
If your equipment is running inefficiently but costs too much to replace, you might be able to service or repair it instead. Depending on what is involved, this could be something you can handle in-house or you may need to invest in professional help. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Monitor and analyse performance
Part of any energy management business strategy is planning for ongoing monitoring and auditing. Rather than taking a ‘set and forget’ approach to your energy efficiency, plan to keep optimising business energy efficiency regularly.
To successfully monitor and analyse performance, you could:
- Assign business energy efficiency as a responsibility for someone in your team or hire a specialist to audit the energy data for you.
- Look for abnormalities in your energy data and find ways to reduce or eliminate these, such as by investing in energy efficient appliances or implementing our energy saving tips.
- Compare the energy data to your baseline and business activity to learn whether certain equipment is running when it is not needed.
- Regularly monitor your energy data for unexpected spikes in use which could indicate when equipment needs repairing or maintaining.
Explore whether you could save on your capacity charges
Capacity charges can make up a significant part of your electricity costs. The higher your demand during peak times during summer, the higher your capacity charges will generally be. To attempt to reduce your capacity charges for the next capacity year, consider if you can reduce your electricity consumption between 3pm and 8pm on the hottest days from December to March. Explore how your business could take more control of your capacity charges.
You may also be eligible for our Peak Demand Notification Subscription Service* to receive advanced notice of predicted "Peak Demand Days", which could inform your electricity consumption decisions and help you to save on your capacity charges payable.
If you are on an unbundled contract for your business, speak to your account manager who can help you learn about ways you may be able to better manage your energy and capacity charges and help you to devise specific strategies to minimise the impact of those charges to your business.
Choose the right energy retailer for your business
Synergy is WA’s largest electricity retailer, supplying most of the electricity to residential and commercial customers in the southwest of WA.
If you use more than 50 MWh (roughly $15,300 worth) of electricity a year, you have a choice of electricity retailer. Different electricity providers may offer you different price structures, services or other benefits to encourage you to choose their service – so it’s important to consider your options carefully before making a decision.
Here are some tips to help choose the right one:
- Always read the fine print. Make sure you understand your contract. Read the terms of your contract and don’t hesitate to ask about any opportunities or provisions that allow the retailer to pass on costs or any other cost changes that could impact your business.
- Compare the same costs. In any price comparison, make sure that the costs you are comparing are accurate and equivalent. Looking for the cents per kilowatt hour (c/KWh) rate can be a helpful way to ensure you’re comparing the same elements when considering your business electricity costs.
- Look at all costs to avoid surprises later. Make sure you consider any extra costs such as service charges or late payment fees which could apply under your contract.
- Examine their service and supply offering. Check whether your energy retailer has a mix of generation resources.
WA’s energy landscape is changing as community batteries, wind farm power and rooftop solar begin to play an even more significant role in our renewable energy future. Explore the ways that Synergy is building more renewable energy generation to support WA's renewable energy future.
* Peak Demand Notification Subscription Service Terms and Conditions apply.