Published: The Daily Telegraph Date: 13 September 2010
Ern Phang is monitoring power usage
Small businesses can reduce their power bills and cut carbon pollution with the Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program.
The scheme is part of the NSW Government's $150 million energy efficiency strategy and is open to small businesses with 10 employees and annual power bills of up to $20,000.
On average, businesses can save around $1400 worth of electricity and 10 tonnes of carbon pollution per year.
Participating businesses can get up to 50 per cent of costs (up to $5000) covered by the NSW government for improving their energy efficiency.
A recent DECCW study found less than half of small businesses have acted to reduce their electricity consumption.
From 1 January 2013, the Energy Saver program will offer energy efficiency services to all organisations in NSW, including small businesses.
For more information call the Environment Line: 1300 361 967 or visit the website.
Carl and Jenny Ding run the IGA Oakhill supermarket in Castle Hill. They registered for the Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program earlier this year and have started to implement the recommended action plan.
Carl says the rising cost of electricity hits small businesses hard: "Electricity bills go up every year. Surviving is tough. So I'm happy to try to save energy and money."
They will be making changes gradually as funds permit: "Six months ago, we changed all the lights to the new technology T5s, that's saved some energy."
Seventy per cent of Carl's power bill goes on refrigeration, and this is where he hopes to make the greatest savings: "We're going to make the changes [installation of intelligent motor controllers in the cold and freezer cabinets] soon, but it's a big investment. The government will give us 50 per cent back so that's a big help."
Narooma Motel YHA
Darren Brass runs the Narooma Motel YHA on the NSW South Coast. Former electrician Darren says the program has brought him up to date with developments in energy efficiency: "They've done some research and come up with the best ways to save money and energy. I was quite impressed."
Darren says hot water, heating and cooling are priorities: "We've already started the first stage of our solar [installation]. Now the busiest wing of the motel, including the managers unit and a communal kitchen, is all solar. We're also 90 per cent completed on the heaters. We've changed the old bar heaters to energy efficient electric fan heaters."
Goodall Quality Meats
David Goodall owns Goodall Quality Meats in Merimbula.
He'd just received a power bill for nearly $7000 when he got a phone call from an Energy Efficiency Program representative inviting him to be assessed.
"I was ready to hear anything to save me money," he says.
One month on, and David is implementing the recommendations: "I've changed my hot water service from electric to instantaneous gas. We need hot water as soon as we walk in, and we're running our hot water service 24/7. With gas, you just pay for what you use.
"Reducing the business's carbon footprint is a bonus. My main motivation is financial, but anything we can do to save the environment is a good thing."
Joe Glass of Dale-Glass Industries, a manufacturer of timber products based in Silverwater, says the energy efficiency program has been an eye-opener.
"We had about 10 overhead lights in two bays of our warehouse. They were big – 400W each – and cost $8 a day to run.
"That doesn't sound a lot, but when you're running your operation for 220 days a year, it costs $1000 just for those two bays. So we installed a full row of skylights, and that's made a hell of a difference. We don't have to turn the lights on at all."
Jenny Hong is the owner of Scrambled, a cafe in Enmore that has only just been assessed.
She was impressed by the assessor's attention to detail: "He gave me lots of tips that were helpful. It was surprising to know there are so many little things you can do to make a difference."
She says bad habits can be expensive: "We would turn on the fryer in the morning out of convenience, but we don't use it until lunchtime. I was surprised when I saw the figures for how much I could save by waiting three or four hours to turn it on and then turning it off as soon as service had finished. I'm only a small business, so all those things do add up."
Jenny advises other small business owners to give it a go: "The rebates and the information are great."
Ern Phang of Phang Legal, a small law firm based in Parramatta, says joining the program couldn't be simpler: "When the assessor came out, we had a long chat about all sorts of different stuff; I was quite comfortable and so we decided to go ahead."
He says the company is making changes to its lighting; installing splitting switches (to allow lights to be turned on for half the office floor at a time) and timers where appropriate (in bathrooms, for example).
He says his motivation is more than financial: "Some improvements will be very subtle, but you know you're doing the right thing.
"It's about setting an example for the local community, setting an example for my kids, setting an example for clients and taking responsibility."
Ern is keen to spread the word: "I've recommended the program to clients. It makes economic sense as well as being environmentally friendly."
To find out more or register, browse the Energy Efficiency for Small Business section of this website.