ELECTRICITY prices have doubled in the past seven years, increasing costs for home owners and businesses alike.
Amanda Energy managing director Martin Jurat said there are many simple ways businesses can reduce their consumption and costs. He offers the following tips:
Be aware of pricing
Most electricity suppliers charge peak prices from 8:00am-10:00pm and off-peak prices from 10:00pm-8:00am.
However Mr Jurat said paying one price during ‘peak’ hours was inadequate, as the price actually fluctuated during that time.
“There are periods of high electricity usage, such as 8:00am-9:30am and 4:00pm-7:00pm and then in the middle of the day when more solar comes onto the grid, pricing decreases.
“In the near future there will be high peak pricing, low peak pricing and off peak pricing, however most people just pay peak and off peak prices.”
Install a smart meter
Smart meters, or 30-minute interval meters, will measure your electricity consumption every 30 minutes, and give you peak and off peak readings.
“It is surprising how many businesses do not have a smart meter,” Mr Jurat said.
“A standard accumulation meter will just show you how much power you use, a smart meter will show you how much and exactly when you are using it.
“We often arrange this for businesses and this information will allow them to make cost-saving changes.”
Change your consumption habits
Once you understand your usage patterns you can start to make changes to how and when you use electricity.
Mr Jurat said there were a lot of opportunities to store heat and cold and use it later.
“Airconditioning usage is a perfect example,” he said.
“You may think it is environmentally friendly to leave it until mid-afternoon when the building gets hot before you turn on the airconditioning, but you’re actually better off turning it on mid-morning when the price of electricity is cheaper.
“It uses less energy to bring the building to the temperature you want, and maintain it, when it is already cool.
“You could then turn it off around 3:30pm/4:00pm; it may be the hottest part of the day, and while the temperature may increase and it may start to get uncomfortably warm at 5:00pm, it won’t matter as that is the time everyone is heading home.”
As well as adjusting appliances you may also change when you do business.
“An example is an analysis we did for a glass processing company,” Mr Jurat said.
“They melt a lot of glass earlier in the morning, before the 8:00am peak, work it during the day and often shut down before the evening peak to reduce their energy costs.”
“Solar for a business is an absolute no-brainer and often the payback period is three years or less,” Mr Jurat said.
“We can also do a comparison for a business regarding financing solar power.
“For example, if you’re paying $200 per month on finance and you’re saving $250 on electricity, you’re essentially getting a free solar system.
“Over a five-year finance term, you’ve had a free system and then it’s totally paid off and giving you the full benefit.”
Mr Jurat said there were also other options like Amanda Energy’s Green Plan for business and roof-lease arrangements for commercial property owners.
Consider the cost of doing business
When you understand the costs of running your business you can then make informed decisions about taking on business.
“We did an analysis for a customer who was looking to take on a huge order,” Mr Jurat said.
“This would have required them to run overtime, late into the afternoon and the extra cost in electricity was over $220,000 over the year.
“While the work would increase their profit, it would also increase their costs and having that knowledge helped them decide whether taking on the extra work would be a good commercial decision.”
Be proactive on pricing
Take control of your electricity costs and do not just accept the status quo.
Mr Jurat said business owners should be asking their electricity provider to help them be smart with their power.
“We can compare these costs with business consumption figures, every 30 minutes over the last 12 months for example, so they can see where savings can be made,” he said.
Act now for the future
Bigger businesses with unbundled tariff and fixed transmission and capacity costs need to consider how their usage today will affect later payments.
“Consumption costs may be reduced with peak-shaving by reducing fixed costs of supply,” Mr Jurat said.
“However, if the capacity on the grid needs to increase, costs will increase, whether that electricity is used or not, so a spike in usage this summer could actually see you paying in the next supply term.”
Engage a professional
Reviewing electricity consumption and costs can be time-consuming and confusing and it is beneficial to seek professional advice.
“At Amanda Energy we do a full analysis and provide tailored recommendations according to the unique circumstances of each business,” Mr Jurat said.
“Two thirds of an electricity bill is made up of reducible charges and the analysis offers a window of opportunity to determine the best strategies to reduce their power bills.”
For more information on how your business can save on power costs, contact Amanda Energy on 9430 7048 or visit www.amandaenergy.com.au.