Over half the money raised from the carbon price is being used to assist households.
Energy transformation tips
There are around 2.7 million small businesses in Australia and they are not required to pay the carbon price.
Q. How can builders benefit from gaining the knowledge and skills they need to construct homes that are more energy efficient?
The demand for houses that are energy efficient is on the rise as Australian homeowners begin to realise the benefits. Equipping builders with the skills they need to produce cutting-edge constructions that lead the way in energy efficiency will help their businesses thrive as this steadily growing market continues to expand.
Q. Want to know more about the Carbon Farming Initiative?
While there are a range of indirect impacts from carbon pricing on energy and other costs, it is important to realise that electricity costs have been rising in recent years irrespective of the carbon price. Transforming energy use in your small business will reduce these costs, lower your impact on the environment and improve your ability to operate in a low-carbon emissions economy.
These tips are designed to give you practical, effective advice which will work in most small business environments. Tailored advice for home-based businesses is also available. Most of these tips are about changing behaviour and will cost your business nothing to implement. Where there are costs involved, ensure that you consider whether purchases make financial sense for your business.
- Energy use transformation tips for small business (PDF 196 kB)
If you are considering purchasing more energy efficient equipment, you may be able to take advantage of the Government’s small business instant asset write-off. As of 1 July 2012 the instant asset write-off has been increased, enabling eligible small businesses to write-off depreciating assets costing less than $6,500 in the income year in which they start to use the asset or have it installed ready for use. There is no limit to the number of items that can be written off in a financial year. Assets which cost $6,500 or more can be allocated to the general small business pool and depreciated at a rate of 15 per cent in the year of allocation and 30 per cent in following years.
Heating & Cooling
Heating and cooling is one of the biggest energy users for most small businesses. There are ways you can make your business cheaper to run and remain comfortable.
As a guide, set your thermostat between 18 and 21°C in winter and 24°C in summer. Every extra degree warmer or cooler adds 5 to 10 per cent to your energy use. Turn off the system when the building is not in use. Consider removing or restricting staff access to the thermostat.
Insulate the building, including the ceiling. This will assist in reducing heat loss in winter and keeping the building cool in summer.
Reduce heat loss and gain
Window shades and awnings help stop heat entering the building. Curtains and blinds can also be used to assist in heat reduction or heat retention, depending on the season.
Check for gaps
Check for gaps around windows and window seals. An easy way to check is to run your hand over window seals and any suspect cracks, if you feel air passing through, it’s likely that air is escaping. There are many products available to draught-proof windows and doors.
Doors left open or ajar will let warm/cool air in/out (which ever you don’t want!). Consider installing automatic closers on external doors to prevent them being left ajar. Close doors to unused or un-air-conditioned rooms.
Keep maintenance up to date
Regularly maintaining air-conditioners and heaters will make sure they operate most efficiently.
Section off unused areas
Only heat or cool the rooms you use. Turn off vents and thermostats for unused areas.
Many businesses could reduce the amount of energy they use for lighting by making smarter lighting choices, changing some habits and moving to more efficient technologies.
Use lights efficiently
Consider installing motion sensors in meeting or infrequently used rooms. This will ensure the lights are off when the room is not in use. Have staff turn off lights as they exit a room. Ensure that the last person to leave turns off all lighting that doesn’t need to be on overnight.
Install energy-efficient lighting
Fluorescent bulbs or LEDs use 80 per cent less electricity than incandescent and halogen bulbs. Low voltage halogen spotlights are available for spot lighting.
Clean lights as required to reduce heat build-up and increase bulb life.
Take advantage of natural light
Open curtains and blinds during the day. Consider investing in a skylight. Painting interior walls light colours to reflect more light is another option.
Manage security lighting
Consider using movement or infrared sensors instead of leaving lights on all night.
Minimise illuminated signage
Determine running times for illuminated signs. Do they need to be using power all day and night? You can use a timer switch to turn them off during the day and when very few people are likely to view the sign overnight.
As our reliance on technology increases and energy prices are on the rise, choosing energy-efficient appliances becomes more important. It’s not only about having the right product – how you use equipment can make a big difference. While the lowest price tag might seem the cheapest way to go, the running costs can add up to much more than you realise.
Use computers efficiently
Ensure staff members turn off computers and monitors when they leave for the day. You can adjust the power management option on individual computers (just search help) or on networked computers. Set up computers so standby mode is activated after a period of inactivity. Use black screens instead of active screen savers which use full power – screen savers don’t save energy.
Depending on your business requirements, consider purchasing a laptop, they consume less energy than desktop computers. If for business purposes, this purchase could be written off under the small business instant asset write-off.
Using copiers, printers and faxes
Activate the standby feature so that when the equipment is not in use it will go into standby mode. Use a timer switch to automatically turn off large equipment overnight.
Many small businesses may be able to reduce the amount of energy they use for refrigeration by making smarter choices, changing some habits and by regularly maintaining and cleaning fridges and freezers.
Choose the correct sized fridges and freezers
If you choose the right size fridge or freezer for your business needs, it will ensure you won’t be using excess electricity cooling space you don’t need. Consider the energy efficiency of these appliances in your purchases. Keep in mind that you may be able to write-off new purchases under the instant asset write-off. Most fridges have synthetic greenhouse gases in them which need to be topped up or replaced intermittently due to system leakage and attract an equivalent carbon price. There are fridges available that don’t use these gases and businesses should factor this in to their purchase decisions.
Locate them properly
Position fridges and freezers away from heat sources. Ensure that fridges and freezers have sufficient air flow around motors, compressors and vents. This will allow hot air to escape.
Keep well stocked
Fridges and freezers operate most efficiently when at least two thirds full.
Keep maintenance and cleaning up to date
For most efficient operation, have refrigeration units, especially the fans, motors and other moving parts, cleaned regularly. Built up dust and ice will increase running costs. Check all seals, hinges and catches regularly. Damages or leaks will also increase the running cost of the refrigeration unit.
Spread food in the freezer
Spreading out food packages, rather than clumping them, allows the air to circulate better. This will decrease the amount of time and energy it takes to freeze the food.
Consider load sharing and whether you can condense stock into fewer refrigeration units and turn one off.
Keep cool room doors closed
Plastic strip curtains can also be used to prevent air loss when the cool room door is open.
Turn off refrigeration lighting
Turn off refrigeration lighting after hours and use thermal covers to insulate refrigeration units. This will reduce the energy required to keep stock cool when the refrigeration unit is not in active use.
Defrost regularly as excess (more than 4-5mm) ice can reduce efficiency of your refrigeration unit.
Your small business may be able to reduce the amount of energy used for hot water by choosing new technologies, changing some habits, maintaining systems and fixing leaks.
Assess your existing hot water system
Chances are your building already had a hot water system before you moved in. Read up on it and have it inspected to see if it needs replacing. In some cases, the existing tank may be reusable with a new system.
Purchasing a new hot water system
Choose a system that best suits your budget, location and usage requirements. Systems that are too large for your needs will heat water that you won’t use and will cost you more money to run. Research the type of systems available – your choice of an electric, gas solar or other system will depend on a range of factors including how much hot water you use, how you use it, existing energy sources (e.g. is natural gas available in your area or is there good sunshine), how much space you have to locate a system, your budget, operating costs, and your existing system. If your new hot water system costs less than $6,500, you may be able to write it off under the small business instant asset write-off.
Find the correct location
The placement of the hot water system can increase or decrease your power and water bills. Locate systems close to bathrooms and wet areas such as laundries, to keep pipework as short as possible. This will also help minimise heat loss.
Insulate your hot water system
Insulating hot water pipes and tanks will reduce heat loss and is an inexpensive way to reduce your energy bill. About 30 per cent of the energy used to heat water in storage hot water systems is wasted due to heat loss.
Service your system regularly
This ensures that any cracks or faulty parts can be dealt with promptly to save water leakages and energy consumption.
Consider turning off after hours
Turn off your system if it won’t be used for an extended period of time, such as holidays. Consider turning off the hot water system overnight if you only require hot water during the day.
Check the temperature
Where available, check the thermostat is set to a level that’s appropriate for the purpose of use. Setting the thermostat higher than required will increase your power bills and wastes energy. A general rule in storage systems is to set the temperature to at least 60°C to kill bacteria.
Install water saving devices
Appliances such as low flow nozzles and electronic sensors on taps will reduce the amount of water used.
Fix any leaky taps promptly.
There are many opportunities to save energy and money by better managing energy losses and leakages in compressed air systems for small businesses using compressed air.
Establish a maintenance program
Set up a system where equipment is inspected regularly. As an example, a blocked inlet air filter can result in energy losses of around 3 per cent.
Avoid inappropriate use of compressed air
Only use compressed air where it is necessary for the task. Activities such as dusting, cleaning up, drying and process cooling can be achieved in other ways.
Optimise pressure levels
Evaluate what pressure level is required for your operations and set the pressure level to this. Pressure above what is required can damage equipment and increase operating costs.