Reduce commercial energy bills with more efficient equipment

Electricity prices have been rising for some time, adding increased pressure to the bottom line of companies up and down Australia.

A report from the Australian Energy Market Commission found that during the year to June 30 2013 alone, electricity costs were up 14 per cent. For the following two years, an increase of 3 per cent was forecast.

While businesses are encouraged to carry out an electricity comparison to ensure they are on the most affordable tariff, there are other ways to minimise costs. Encouraging energy efficiency throughout an office space is one place to start, as appliances can prove large consumers of electricity.

Laptops generally use less energy than PCs.

Laptops generally use less energy than PCs.

Which appliances are the biggest energy consumers?

The first step should be to identify which appliances in your office environment are proving the most expensive to run. Heating, cooling and lighting are generally considered the biggest offenders, with figures from MGL suggesting they account for 72 per cent of all energy usage in a commercial facility.

Lighting is one particular area that you should be keen to focus on. MGL found that it accounts for around 38 per cent of total commercial energy use, so making some relatively minor changes could lead to significant cost savings.

Figures from Sustainability Victoria outline some of the potential cuts you could make, simply by switching old-style incandescent light bulbs for newer models. For example, the average annual cost of running a 60-watt incandescent bulb stands at $18.40. A 42-watt CFL or LED lamp will emit the same amount of light and cost between $3.40 and $4 to run.

Lighting is one particular area that you should be keen to focus on.

The type of computers used within a company should also be given consideration. Data compiled on behalf of the Australian Greenhouse Office shows that laptops use significantly less energy than standard desktop computers. While in use, a laptop will use around 20 to 45 watts, which compares to as high as 120 watts for a PC.

How can changes in habits affect electricity prices?

It's also important to ensure that members of the workforce are on board with making an effort to reduce electricity prices. This means encouraging them to shut down equipment after use, rather than leave it in standby mode.

Statistics show that technological measures have been introduced to help reduce energy consumption by up to 90 per cent, government figures show, but people still have a role to play. For example, a fax machine will use 30 watts of energy while in standby model, while a cordless phone uses around 5 watts.

Posted by Richard West