Electricity is the lifeblood of all business activity and managing energy costs during the pandemic could be the difference between folding and making it through the other side.
There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected business activity across the whole of Australia.
Australia has avoided a technical recession, recording 0.4 percent Gross Domestic Product Growth in the June Quarter of 2021, but that figure is expected to contract into negative territory in Q4 as the effects of lockdown start to bite.
The technical explanation above is superfluous to businesses on the ground that have seen their profits dry up because people are spending less and trading activity has been severely restricted.
So what can businesses do to improve their strategy to help manage energy costs during the pandemic?
After an initial drop in wholesale energy prices, a combination of factors have come into play to push them back up including early retirement of coal generators, massive outages caused by failing equipment and battery failures.
Purchase energy on the wholesale market at advantageous prices
The quickest win that a business can make in the energy market is to purchase energy on the wholesale market when it is cheap.
A common misconception is that businesses cannot purchase energy in advance if they are currently under contract. This is not the case.
Leading Edge Energy has helped hundreds of Australian businesses to secure a new energy deal while under an existing contract.
Marketing timing is key, and our Energy Management Consultants are constantly plugged into the market and can advise you on the optimal time to go to tender.
Always think ahead, purchasing energy at the last minute will usually lead to paying inflated prices.
Install renewable energy generation onsite
Installing rooftop solar panels is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing energy costs for a business. Leading Edge Energy’s consultants can advise you on the best system to give you maximum return on investment.
When coupled with a battery storage system, the benefits of rooftop solar really come into their own as generation which would have gone to waste can be stored to be used when needed.
Battery storage also gives you the option to sell back into the grid if you wish to. Without a battery, excess energy will be sold at peak generation times, meaning poor prices. With battery storage, it can be sold at times when prices give a better return.
Make sure you are on the correct network tariff
Energy bills are complicated to understand and unless you know what to look for, you could be paying more than you should be for things such as network tariffs.
Network tariffs are charges applied by distributors to transport electricity from the generator through the grid to the endpoint users. They are known as “poles and wires” charges and can account for between 30 and 60 percent of your electricity bill.
Leading Edge Energy has helped many Australian businesses make instant savings by matching their demand and consumption to the correct network tariffs.
Most recently, Leading Edge Energy helped Blue Gums Hotel & The Somerset Hotel save $20,000 each in South Australia by identifying a cheaper network tariff.
Improve energy efficiency
Businesses can improve the efficiency of electricity consumption in a number of ways. The key here is to measure and reduce. Simple steps can be taken to reduce energy consumption, such as turning things off when they are not being used.
But there are other measures you can take such as installing equipment timers, energy-saving LED lighting, motion sensors, power factor correction, and purchasing energy-efficient equipment which has been certified by the relevant standard authority.
- Insulate your business premises
Insulation can help your business manage energy costs during the pandemic because in winter, it keeps the cold out and the heat in. Conversely, in summer, it keeps the heat out and traps the cool air inside.
Pay attention to door seals and make sure that doors are not left open.
- Get the most out of your air conditioning system
Air conditioning can really drive up your energy bill if you do not manage it correctly. The first thing you should do is set it to a temperature range between 20 and 23 degrees.
Where possible, you should also have separate controls for areas that have different occupancy levels and a smaller need for temperature control. Installing ceiling fans can also help circulate the air.
- Pay attention to water efficiency
Don’t overheat water. Hot water should be at a temperature of 60 degrees, which is enough to kill bacteria and warm enough for people to use safely and comfortably.
If your business has a heavy use bathroom, install half-flush systems. A bathroom motion sensor is also a good way to make sure lights are not left on.
- Refrigeration units energy efficiency
Use refrigeration units that use natural refrigerants or hydrocarbons. These units save about 17-38% on energy, and have a much longer lifespan than those that use synthetic refrigerants. Place them in the coolest spot and make sure they have good ventilation.
Try to keep the fridge or freezer as full as possible and make sure units are frost-free. You can also use timers to turn off freezers for a couple of hours overnight and install variable speed drives and soft starters.
Harness waste and produce biogas
If your business produces substantial amounts of organic waste, you could be sitting on a biogas gold mine.
Organic waste decomposes and produces methane, the most harmful greenhouse gas.
If waste is stored in an environment without oxygen, it will produce biogas which can be stored and used for cooking and heating if burned off directly.
It can also be treated and turned into biomethane, which can be exported and sold to gas-fired power stations using existing infrastructure.
Look out for government grants
State and Federal governments have issued various grants to help businesses manage their energy costs during the pandemic.
Keep an eye out for them on their websites and apply for them, even if your business does not tick all the boxes.
Does your business need practical advice on managing energy costs during the pandemic?
Leading Edge Energy, expert energy brokers in Australia, can help you with managing energy costs during the pandemic.