Published: The Daily Telegraph Date: 24 November 2010
Save Power Challenge... Butcher David Goodall of Goodall Quality Meats shop at Merimbula, NSW, taking part in the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (DECCW)'s Save Power Challenge.
Businesses can save between 30 and 50 per cent on their electricity bills through a combination of upgrading their technology and changing their behaviour, says Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (DECCW) energy assessor Tim Whittaker.
Over the past eight weeks, one of his clients has been David Goodall of Goodall's Quality Meats in Merimbula - a participant in The Daily Telegraph- DECCW Save Power Challenge.
Replacing David's electric water heater with an instantaneous gas system was the first step.
Under DECCW's Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program, David is eligible for up to $5000 to pay for 50 per cent of the costs to reduce his business' power consumption. A new energy-efficient air conditioner has also been installed in the butcher shop to replace two air conditioners which were over 11 years old.
As the shop's equipment produces a significant amount of heat overnight, more advanced roof ventilation is expected to further reduce energy consumption. "He was having to run the air conditioning at night to keep the shop cool," Tim says. "Having ventilation to exhaust hot air from the building will reduce the load on the air conditioner."
Running his own small business, Tim says he's aware of the pressures faced by small business owners like David.
"Your resources are tied up in a lot of things – you're often the boss, secretary and accountant, you're trying to manage cash flow and sales and have little resources left," he says.
"But these days, electricity is becoming more expensive, and becoming a significant cost factor. Businesses can either put their prices up to combat that, which risks making them uncompetitive, or look for ways they can reduce the cost of energy.
"All the smaller businesses I've worked with have a point of view on environmental issues, but what really motivates them is their bottom line."
Tim says the top three power consumers in most businesses he assesses are water heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators. Lighting tends to be another major element.
Having an energy assessment can help highlight exactly where businesses are using the most power and identify potential courses of action.
"They get to see at a glance how much their hot water is costing, how much their lighting is costing, potential savings they can make and payback periods for new technologies," Tim says.
Businesses often take on the ones that have shorter payback periods or bigger savings first, and once they do that they get into the mood and are constantly looking for new ways to save.
"You'll find they'll also change their behaviours to operate more efficiently, and staff get in on the action, too."