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El Niño summer: 10 simple ways to keep your SME’s energy costs down

Following the Bureau of Meteorology issuing an El Niño watch for the upcoming months, energy retailer Blue NRG is calling on businesses to reconsider their energy usage habits ahead of the summer season.

Hotter and drier-than-expected weather generally drives up electricity demand as more households and businesses turn on energy-intensive appliances such as air conditioners.

This change in the weather means there is a tighter balance in the supply and demand of electricity, which leads to an increase in the average spot price of electricity.

General Manager of Blue NRG, Duncan Jacklin, says that businesses should be more mindful of when they are using these high-energy intensive, temperature cooling appliances to avoid high electricity bills this summer.

“In the heat of the summer, it’s easy to lose track of how much energy you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis. Yet, it’s in these times that businesses must be most aware of their energy habits to mitigate unnecessary costs,” Duncan said.

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According to AEMO data from last summer’s energy usage, the wholesale electricity price between 8 am and 2 pm in Queensland last summer averaged around one-third of the average December 2022 – February 2023 summer price. Whilst the wholesale prices in the evening peak times between 6 pm and 8 pm averaged more than twice the average summer price.

An easy way for businesses to combat high costs is to implement Blue NRG’s Energy Management System (EMS), which helps users understand their energy usage and empowers them to reduce their energy consumption. This means that users can schedule appliance run times to take advantage of lower rates, automate the shift of energy usage to lower cost periods, and optimise solar power benefits.

Utilising an EMS can also help businesses keep track of their energy usage through the Insights tool that allows for centralised control and monitoring, enhancing their ability to reduce overall costs.

“Our number one priority is to help our customers save on their energy bills, and employing our EMS is an easy and effective way for us to do that,” Duncan said.

Simple changes to cut down on energy costs are:

  • Adjust Thermostat Settings:

Raise the thermostat temperature during working hours when the building is occupied.

Ensure that the thermostat is set to a comfortable but not overly cool temperature.

  • Regular HVAC Maintenance:

Schedule regular maintenance for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure they operate efficiently.

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Replace air filters regularly to maintain optimal airflow.

  • Use Programmable Thermostats:

Install programmable thermostats to automatically adjust temperatures based on occupancy and working hours.

  • Install Solar Panels:

Consider installing solar panels to harness renewable energy and offset electricity costs. Blue NRG can assist with site analysis and feasibility study.

  • Energy-Efficient Lighting:

Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives like LED lights.

Turn off lights in unoccupied areas and use natural light whenever possible.

  • Use Energy-Efficient Cooling Systems:

If feasible, invest in energy-efficient HVAC systems that use less energy to cool the same space.

  • Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances:

Invest in energy-efficient office equipment and appliances, such as ENERGY STAR-rated devices.

  • Seal Leaks and Insulate:

Ensure that windows and doors are properly sealed to prevent cool air from escaping and hot air from entering. Proper insulation can also help maintain a comfortable temperature inside the building.

  • Encourage Energy-Saving Habits:

Educate employees about the importance of energy conservation and encourage simple habits like turning off lights and equipment when not in use.

  • Implement a Remote Work Policy:

Consider allowing employees to work remotely during the hottest parts of the day, reducing the need for air conditioning.

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