It is no surprise that New Zealand businesses are squandering energy, and therefore money, in the course of their day-to-day operations.

A vivid example would be a commercial building running an air-conditioning unit to cool down one part of its structure while trying to heat up another part with a boiler.

Many businesses could shave up to 20 percent off energy costs, says The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), potentially saving up to $900 million a year across all New Zealand businesses by 2030, if all economic options are implemented.

The good news is many of the solutions are inexpensive, not time-consuming and some even completely free.

First, you can’t manage what hasn’t been measured, so it is important to benchmark your electricity usage by comparing it to others in the industry. By monitoring energy use identifiers you can quickly determine where the energy is being wasted and quickly develop a plan to fix it.  

Secondly, instead of investing in a new air compressor, it is important to find leaks in the system first. If all the leaks are eliminated, there might be no need to invest in a new compressor after all. Pushkar Kulkarni, Total Utilities, says: “Over time they may deteriorate or be modified and leaks occur. They can be expensive to run, so the savings from identifying and fixing leaks can be considerable. It’s usually a fairly inexpensive fix with a fast return on investment.”

Thirdly, uninsulated pipes, used for both heating and cooling, can result in substantial energy loss. Glenn Johnston, Smart Power, says: “Industries where it’s important to insulate pipes include the likes of food processors, hospitals, freezing works, packaging plants – anywhere they have refrigeration or hot water needs.” In the company where Johnston used to work, a $20,000 investment into insulating the pipes turned into an annual saving of some 250,000kWh, or $11,000, giving a payback period of just 1.9 years.

Last but not least, heating and cooling systems often work at the same time, typically because the building is poorly controlled. It is estimated that 10-20 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling in a building is wasted, partially because HVAC systems do not have an air temperature dead-band to prevent frequent switching from heating to cooling and vice versa.

Visit Auckland Build Expo on 8-9 November to learn more about Facilities Management