Looking Back On 2019 With 2020 Vision

One of the first pieces of content that I created for Horan & Bird last year was a blog recapping 2018. I thought it would be a good idea to make that an annual thing and look back on how 2019 has been for us. To say that 2019 had a rocky start is an understatement. In February 2019 Townsville experienced a 500-year flood event. While we are lucky compared to some, we were not unaffected.

The Horan & Bird head office had three inches of water through it. We lost thousands of dollars of equipment and our team was out of the office for two weeks. We are lucky enough to have an amazing team that came together to get us back on track. As soon as the water had cleared our team were in the office pulling up the carpet and covering the place head to toe in vinegar.

We had temporary offices set up in people’s homes to make sure the show went on. We were lucky enough to only have two weeks out of action. Townsville is still recovering from this event, but we are glad to be a part of a community that came together to help one another.

New Regions

2019 has been a big year of interstate expansion for Horan & Bird. In 2018 we took our first steps outside of Queensland and moved into Perth and Adelaide. This year we have expanded further and crossed the border into Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Our move into Adelaide is still proving successful for us and we are excited to now be in almost every state across the country.

We began our move into Melbourne in March and now have two local Energy Specialists in the region. Year to date they have sold 312 kilowatts and 20 battery storage systems as a part of Origin’s VPP. Our team in NSW are still new but this hasn’t stopped them from selling 306 kilowatts across Newcastle and the Central Coast. Our resident Energy Specialist in Canberra has also been working his magic with 200 kilowatts sold in the region since July.

New Employees

Our manpower grew in 2019 too with 25 new employees joining the team this year. We created nine brand new roles in five different locations and promoted another nine people in the business into new positions.

Residential

This year we helped 2,405 residential customers make the switch to solar. The average household saves $1,275 a year when they have solar installed which means we’ve helped Aussie families save approximately $3.6 million in 2019.[i]

Commercial

225 businesses across the country made the switch to renewable energy this year with Horan & Bird, saving approximately $5,000 a year each on their energy bill. That’s $1.1 million we have helped businesses reinvest instead of spending on electricity costs. [ii]

Our impact

In total we have installed 16.8 megawatts of solar across six different states in 2019, saving the environment from approximately 13 tonnes of carbon emissions this year. That’s the equivalent of 196 tree seedings grown for 10 years![iii]

Awards and Achievements

This year Horan & Bird brought home two big wins at the Master Electrician National Excellence Awards. Our Corporate Services Manager, Nicola McCarron took home the Women in Contracting Award and Operations Service Manager, Matt Pinney was crowned Electrician of the Year.

What’s next?

We don’t expect to slow down anytime soon. In 2020 we hope to install 26 megawatts of solar across the country. Group Manager, John Horan also hopes to continue to make Horan & Bird a household name in NSW, VIC & ACT.

 

[i] Calculated by average payback time: Average 5kW system cost = $5,100. Average payback period = 4 years. $5,100/4 = $1,275. Solar Panel Payback Time – Choice.

[ii] Average system size = 16kW, saving approximately $16 per day for 300 days @ 0.23c/kWh = $5,000.

[iii] Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

4 Investments Guaranteed to Reduce your Energy Bill

If you’re like me, you probably think of the biggest thing you can do to implement change. Then you end up disappointed because it seems out of reach, so you end up doing nothing. Sound familiar? I am guilty of it in most aspects of my life, but I am trying to teach myself that a lot of small steps make a big impact. Your energy saving solutions are no different. Below are 4 low cost investments that will help you save on your energy bill.

Lighting

If you haven’t already made the switch to LEDs, now is the perfect time! LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy and can last 25 times longer.[i] Lighting accounts for 10% of our energy bill but switching 10 halogen light bulbs to LEDs could save you $65 a year.[ii] If you live in South Australia or Victoria, you could be eligible to have free or discounted LEDs installed. You can contact YESS for more information. If you’re outside of these areas, your local Master Electrician can install them for you. Motion sensors are also a great way to save on lighting costs. Installing motion sensors could save you up to $100 a year.

Appliances

Appliances can account for up to 30% of our electricity bill but the big energy users are our whitegoods and the television. Being conscious of the energy ratings on your appliances could save you more than you think. The difference between a fridge with a 3-star energy rating and one with a 4.5-star energy rating is around $28.56 a year.[iii] That doesn’t seem like much but when you have two fridges, a washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher and three TVs, it adds up. I think that’s a pretty good excuse to upgrade those old appliances. You can compare the running costs of different appliances here.

Heating and cooling

Heating and cooling are one of the biggest contributors to a high energy bill. There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to.

Maintenance: To ensure your air conditioner is running at peak efficiency, make sure you are cleaning it at least once a year. If you’re unsure how to clean your AC, you can find out how here. You should also have your units inspected by a professional every 2-3 years to ensure that they are running efficiently.

Upgrade old units: If your air conditioner is more than 12 years old, you could reduce your running costs by 30% by switching to a new Energy Star model. Similarly, switching from box or portable units to split systems could save you up to 40% less energy.[iv]

Smart Thermostats: If you haven’t heard of them, a smart thermostat connects to your Wi-Fi and automatically adjusts the temperature in your home for optimal performance. A smart thermostat could save you up to $180 a year![v] The Google Home Hub works as a Smart Thermostat as well as having the ability to control your lights, appliances, your calendar and much more. You can have a look at prices and specs here.

 Showerhead

This one will not only help you save on your energy bill, but it will help you save water too. An energy efficient showerhead uses 3-13 litres per minute less than standard showerheads. Installing an energy-efficient showerhead could also save you up to $200 a year on your energy bill by reducing your hot water usage.[vi] You can purchase a 3 Star showerhead from Bunnings for as low as $30. If you live in SA or VIC, you could be eligible to have your showerhead replaced for free by YESS.

 

Saving money is something that we are all constantly thinking about. Sometimes we forget about the small changes that we can make to help us save in the long term. With energy efficiency and sustainability becoming more mainstream, money saving products are more accessible and affordable. Making your home more energy efficient doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. Pick one thing that you think costs you the most and commit to changing it. Reassess in six months and see how it’s going. Remember, small changes make a big difference.

 

Want to make your home more energy efficient?

Download our free 2020 Energy Efficiency Catalogue

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[i] LED Lighting – Origin Energy

[ii] Lighting – Energy.gov.au

[iii] Energy Rating Calculator

[iv] 10 Tips on Saving Electricity and Lowering Your Electricity Bill

[v] What Can a Smart Thermostat Do that Mine Can’t Already Do?

[vi] Quick Tips: Water Efficient Showerheads

Is Being Complacent Costing You More on Your Energy Bill?

When I was teenager, I was fortunate enough to have: my own computer, a television and an air conditioner in my room (spoilt much?). I can’t even imagine the electricity bills my parents had in the days without solar power and energy efficient appliances. Now that I own my own home, I’m teaching my kids energy efficient tips along the way, so hopefully they won’t lose their cooling rights.

Entertainment

There’s nothing like the stress-free sound of the kids on their iPad in the evening giving me time to cook, clean and unwind. Here are a few Netflix and Chill tips that won’t increase your energy bill:

  • A 40” LCD TV could cost $19 per quarter.[1] When shopping for a new appliance think energy efficient stars and bigger isn’t always better.
  • Any appliance on stand-by mode could be costing you between $55 to $100 a year in running costs. [ii] Switch off at the wall and eliminate those phantom loads costing you money.
  • iPads are worth their weight in gold. Costing as little as $2.80 a year to charge that’s quite the incentive to switch off the bedroom television and watch Netflix on the iPad (plus you can watch what you like, no remote hogging here!).[iii]

Lighting

I’ve been known to splurge on new lamps around the home, more so for their decorative appeal, but it turns out I’ve been doing us a favour because LED lamps save me money!

  • You could save up to $140 per year just by switching on an LED lamp of an evening instead of your ceiling lights.[iv]
  • During the day, open the curtains for some natural sunlight to save on power.
  • At night time, a motion-sensing security light will limit consumption. Your neighbour might appreciate it too! If only the street light outside my bedroom did that.

 Cooling your home

Australia is a hot place, some of us experience Summer all year round. If you can’t resist the cool reprieve of air conditioning, here are some tips to get you through the heat and potentially save you between $40 and $590 a year:[v]

  • Try cooling your home with ceiling fans first. You can also close your curtains and shut your windows to block out heat from the sun.
  • Set your air conditioner temperature to 24° and vow to only use them when the outside temperature reaches 30° or above. Your air conditioner uses 5% more energy for every degree under 24°.
  • When running your air conditioner, always have your ceiling fans on at the same time. It helps circulate cool air which enables you to set the A/C at a higher temperature which saves you money.
  • Utilise the timer on your air conditioner if it has one. You can purchase timers for your power point which can cut down running time overnight by half!
  • Insulating your home could save you up to 45% on your heating and cooling bills.

 Kitchen

My mother once told me a clever tool for power outages which works especially well if you’ve been away over the weekend. Place a cup with water in the freezer, once its frozen place a coin on top. This will allow you to measure if your freezer has begun to defrost, or completely defrosted and refrozen the food once the power was on again! Here’s a few more tips:

  • Your fridge should be set to 4° to 5° and freezer to -15° to work at peak efficiency and minimize energy costs.
  • This one I am certainly guilty of; boiling the potatoes on the hotplate without a lid on uses 70% more energy than if you were to boil with the lids on!
  • Defrosting food overnight in the fridge saves energy from microwaving and reduces cooking time. On that note, can you believe a microwave uses 80% less energy than our electric stove tops?
  • When boiling the kettle, only boil the water you need to save energy and costs.

Now if only I could convince the husband to switch off the beer fridge then I’d pocket the $220 a year in savings![vi]

 Laundry  

Not long ago, my Nanna blessed me with quite the elaborate house warming present; a new washing machine. All I wanted to know was is it easy to use and big enough to fit a blanket? Here are a few things I could have taken into consideration while choosing:

  • A front-load washer saves 50% on electricity. I had picked a top loader for convenience, I’m certainly rethinking my options for the future.
  • Be conscious of star ratings. Every star on your washing machine could save you 25% more energy and lower your running costs.
  • Only ever wash full loads and preferably with cold water.
  • In Australia we are rarely short of free sunshine! At least once a week, opt for the clothes line instead of the dryer to save between $40 and $80 a year.[vii]

Bathroom

We have a rule in our house during shower time, wash your body and get out! We can’t avoid using water every day but here are some tips to be wise with your consumption:

  • When showers are limited to only 4 minutes or less per person households are saving between $60 and $650 a year![viii] A great reason to turn off the tap while shaving your legs or brushing your teeth.
  • The next tip isn’t a freebie but it’s probably the most important. Change your shower head to a 3-star rating and save from $190 to $700 a year in running costs.[ix]

 

Are you looking forward to an energy bill you can boast about?

These types of changes are small and easy to implement in your everyday routine. You could be saving up to $2,500 per year! The last tip I’m offering, and I personally can vouch its success; invest in solar. Making the switch to solar not only could save you up to 60% off your energy bill, it could also reduce your carbon emissions by 6 tonnes per year. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page every Wednesday this summer for our ongoing energy saving tips.

 

Want the inside scoop? 

Download our free 2020 Energy Efficiency Catalogue, to view our top selection of energy efficient appliances, for the best price!
Download Now


[1] Origin Energy – Understanding the energy usage of your appliances

[ii] Origin Energy – Simple ways to reduce energy use

[iii] Tech Advisor – How much does it cost to charge a phone, tablet or Laptop

[iv] Origin Energy – How to save energy in key areas of your home – Lighting

[v] Origin Energy – How to save energy in key areas of your home – Cooling

[vi] Origin Energy – Understanding the energy usage of your appliances

[vii] Origin Energy – How to save energy in key areas of your home – Laundry

[viii] Origin Energy – How to save energy in key areas of your home – Hot water

[ix] Origin Energy – How to save energy in key areas of your home – Hot water

 

How to be More Sustainable this Christmas

Christmas is the time of giving, spending time with your loved ones and creating 30% more waste than you normally would. Over the holidays our contribution to landfill not only increases, but the materials that pile up are usually harder to break down. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Below are a few simple things you can do this holiday season to minimise your environmental impact.

Wrapping paper

Most wrapping paper is made from paper and it 100% recyclable but if your family is anything like mine, we get carried away and it ends up in the garbage on route to landfill. If you are a perfectionist gift wrapper you might avoid the paper wrap and use things like cellophane, metallic wrapping or paper with glitter. Unfortunately, these items cannot be recycled and will end up in landfill too.

What to do?

  1. Stick to plain paper wrap (remember it’s only going to end up in the bin).
  2. Use alternatives like plain recycled paper, newspaper or reusable gift boxes.
  3. If you receive gifts with other materials, unwrap carefully so you can reuse.

Batteries

Battery sales spike over the holidays and as we know they have a short shelf life. Unfortunately, batteries are an environmental hazard. Lithium-iron batteries can leak toxic chemicals into our soil and can contaminate our groundwater. The good news is, batteries can be recycled! Your city should have at least one battery recycling point. Two of the most common are Battery World and Aldi.

What to do?

  1. Create a battery recycling bin in your house and make sure all batteries are recycled.
  2. Purchase rechargeable batteries so you buy less.

Food

Food is one of the biggest contributors of waste all year round and unless your extended family is staying for the entire holiday season you probably waste a lot of that Christmas dinner too.

What to do?

  1. Buy less (I promise you won’t run out).
  2. Freeze leftovers or send your guests home with a doggy-bag.
  3. Eat ham for every meal and use the bone for pea and ham soup or give it to the dog (permitting it’s not baked).

Serving

We’re guilty of using disposable cutlery, plates and cups during any event and Christmas is no exception. Unfortunately, most of these products aren’t biodegradable and will spend the next 100 years in landfill. Talk about a memorable Christmas! One thing I think people don’t realise is that aluminum is recyclable. Make sure you rinse and recycle all the aluminum cooking and serving dishes this year!

What to do?

  1. Avoid disposable cutlery, plates, cups etc. You have a great dishwasher, it’s called kid #1 and kid #2.
  2. If you have to use disposable items look for recycled plastics or paper.
  3. Use aluminum or reusable hard plastic serving trays.

Decorations

Fairy lights are a staple to an Aussie Christmas and they often even stick around throughout the year. Depending on how committed you are to the Christmas decorations, your Christmas lights could be increasing your carbon footprint and your electricity bill. Fairy lights and LED’s can also contain toxic materials so it’s important to remember to dispose of them correctly when they’ve seen their day. You can find e-waste drop-off points in your area here.

If your indoor decorations are looking a bit tired why not save your cash and make some new ones with things around the home. Steal paper from the recycling bin at work to make eco-friendly hanging decorations. This could be a fun arts and crafts idea for the kids. You can find some great ideas here.

What to do?

  1. Invest in solar lights! You know it’s going to be a hot summer so why not let the sun light up your house this year?
  2. If you’re expecting 28 days of rain, go for LEDs. LEDs not only use less electricity, they also last longer than traditional bulbs.
  3. Make your own Christmas decorations.

Gifts

Do you still have one of those bath packs in your cupboard that your secret Santa got you last year that you’re never going to use? We all receive (and probably give) gifts every year that are unwanted or not useful, but it doesn’t mean they should go to waste. If you’re like my mother than you’d rather give up your right limb than give a gift card because it doesn’t seem thoughtful but sometimes it’s the most sustainable option. If you just don’t know what to get someone, get them a gift card to avoid getting them something that might end up in the hallway cupboard for 12 months.

What to do?

  1. Regift, sell or donate unwanted gifts.
  2. Gift things that you bought for yourself but never used.
  3. Try to purchase gifts with little packaging.
  4. When in doubt, buy a gift card.

 

The holidays can be a magical time, but it can sometimes be a time when we take for granted everything we have. Remember to consider your impact this Christmas. Be thoughtful of those around you, of the environment and of those less fortunate. If you have too much, don’t let it go to waste, pass the joy onto someone else. We hope you all have a wonderful and sustainable Christmas.

What Solar Rebates Am I Eligible For?

There is a good chance that you have seen advertisements recently promising great solar rebates in your area. A lot of the time these ‘rebates’ are referring to the STC’s. The Small-Scale Technology Certificates that were introduced in 2011. The STC’s are federal government financial incentives eligible to all small-scale solar systems installed in Australia.  Your installer will more than likely claim the STC’s for you and quote you at the discounted rate.

How much are the STC’s?

The incentive that you will receive for your system will depend of the size of your system and where you live. The STC’s are calculated based on how many megawatts your system will produce over time. The STC price fluctuates with time and demand but is currently $37.50.[i]

Let’s look at an example: If you purchase a 6.6kW system today (remembering that the price fluctuates over time) and your property is located in Zone 1 you will be eligible for 109 STC’s. This means your incentive will be $4,087.50[ii]. You can calculate your STC’s here.

What other solar rebates are available?

Queensland

Solar for Rentals Trial

There is currently one solar rebate available in Queensland. The Solar for Rentals scheme is currently in a trial phase and will end in June 2020. This rebate is eligible to landlords to install solar on their rental properties located in Townsville, Gladstone and Bundaberg. Landlords could be eligible for up to $3,500 in solar rebates for the installation of a solar system.

Eligibility requirements

  • The rental property must be located in Townsville City Council, Gladstone City Council or Bundaberg City Council
  • The property must be currently rented
  • The current rent must not exceed $350 per week

What’s in it for me?

  • The current tenant must sign a new lease for a minimum of 12 months
  • The landlord and tenant must agree on a fair rent increase

Victoria

Solar Victoria Rebate

The Vic Solar rebate offers homeowners and landlords rebates up to $2,225 to install solar. Customers are also eligible for interest-free loans for the amount equivalent to the rebate, repaid over four years. The Vic Solar Rebate will run over two years and 126,832 rebates will be allocated. Not all rebates are immediately available, a few thousand rebates are released each month over the next two years. You can see how many rebates are released each month here.

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be the owner-occupier of the property
  • The owners must have a combined household taxable income of less than $180,000 per year
  • The property must be existing and be valued below $3 million
  • The property must not have an existing solar system (unless installed prior to November 2009)

Origin Virtual Power Plant

Origin Energy have been awarded a $4.5 million grant under the Victorian Government’s Microgrid Demonstration initiative to develop a virtual power plant (VPP). This project uses technology to allow Origin to remotely link small energy resources like solar batteries into a web-based network. This means that Origin can offer highly-discounted solar batteries and control them remotely.

What’s available?

  • 57% discount on a BYD solar battery
  • 24-month interest-free payment options
  • Everything installed, including compatible inverter

Australian Capital Territory

Solar for Low Income Households

The ACT Government is offering solar for low income earners. The Solar for Low Income Program offer eligible homeowners’ rebates of up to $2,500 to installer on their homes. You can find out how to apply here.

Eligibility requirements

  • Must hold an Australian Government Pensioner Concession Card
  • Be a homeowner in the ACT
  • Not already have rooftop solar installed

Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program

Small businesses in the ACT could be eligible for solar rebates up to $5,000 under the new Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program. To find out more information about this rebate click here.

Eligibility requirements

  • Business must be operating in the ACT
  • Electricity bill must be no greater than $25,000 and/or
  • Employ a maximum of 20 people
  • Have a commercial premises (home businesses do not qualify)

South Australia

SA’s Home Battery Scheme 

South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme commenced in October 2018 and enables SA households to access $100 million in state government subsidies for solar PV batteries. The state government is also offering $100 million in loans to pay for the systems. This subsidy is available to all SA residents; however, energy concessions holders are eligible for a higher subsidy.

Under the battery scheme, energy concession holders are eligible for $600kWh and non-concession holders are eligible for $500kWh. The subsidy varies depending on the size of the battery storage system and is capped at $6,000. You can find out more information and how to apply here.

 

[i] http://greenmarkets.com.au/

[ii] $37.50 x 109 STC’s = $4,087.50

 

Do you know which properties are suited to solar?

There are a lot of contributing factors when deciding to make the switch to solar, but the most important is determining whether your property is suitable. Most of us know the basics of what makes our property suitable, but unfortunately there is more to it than meets the eye.

Roof

When determining if solar can be installed on your roof there are three mains things to consider; the integrity and material, size and pitch.

Integrity/type

The most obvious giveaway in determining if your roof is suitable for solar is rust. If your roof is rusted it is a safety issue and shouldn’t be installed on. Installing solar on a rusty roof could damage the integrity of the roof and often leads to leaks.

The type of material your roof is made from also plays a key role in determining if solar can be installed. Common types of aluminium sheeting can be soft and damage easily. Most solar companies will avoid installing on these roofs as it’s not worth risking potential damage in the future for the customer. Other materials such as decromastic tiles and asbestos roofs are also avoided by most companies.

Size

If your home has a small roof or one with a number of different aspects it can be difficult to install a solar system. A small roof can still have solar installed but will limit the size of your system and ultimately limit your potential savings.

Pitch

The pitch of your roof may also prevent you from making the switch to solar. Most solar companies will not install on a roof with a pitch over 30 degrees as it is a safety risk for the installers.

Shading

You may think that because the sun shines through your house all day that you don’t have any shading issues but unfortunately it’s more complex than that. Trees are marvelous things and they can cast shade further than you think.  There’s a chance that the large tree in your neighbour’s backyard could shade parts of your roof as well. It is important to identify any trees surrounding your property that may cause shade.

Trees are not the only thing that could cause shading issues on your roof. Vent pipes and TV antennas can also cause shading. You might be thinking that TV antennas aren’t very big and they couldn’t affect production that much. However, all panels produce equal to the lowest producing panel. Meaning that if there is shading on one panel, it could affect all other panels in that string.

Direction of panels

The direction that your solar panels will be placed will also affect your solar production. The ideal property for solar production has enough roof space to place all panels facing north.

North Facing

Having all panels facing north is the optimal panel layout as panels facing north produce the most electricity overall. North facing solar systems are great for people that are home during the day as these customers can run appliances in the middle of the day when production is at its peak.

West Facing

West facing panels produce about 12% less electricity than panels facing north. Panels facing west will have lower production in the morning but higher production in the afternoon and peak just after noon. West facing panels are ideal for people that are home and use their power in the afternoon.

North-West Facing

Solar systems with a north-west orientation will produce approximately 5% less electricity overall than north facing systems. The production throughout the day will be that of north and west facing panels but will produce slightly less in the morning and more in the afternoon.

East facing

East facing panels are similar to west facing panels and will produce approximately 12% less than north facing panels. Panels facing east will have lower production in the afternoon but higher production in the morning. East facing is ideal for people who are home in the morning.

North-east Facing

North-east facing panels will produce 5% less electricity than north facing overall.

East and West Facing

Placing panels east and west will give a similar result to east facing and will produce approximately 12% less than north facing. The east/west split can often result in a more consistent output of electricity throughout the day compared to other orientations. East/west orientation is ideal for people that work during the day as there is high production in the morning and afternoon when people are likely at home.

South Facing

South facing is the worst direction that panels can face. Depending on your location, south facing systems can produce up to 28% less electricity than north facing panels. Installing solar on the south facing roof can be done. It is just important to be aware that production will be dramatically lower, especially in the winter months.

Bill size

It’s important to be realistic about how much solar could save you. There was a time during the solar boom when feed-in tariffs were so high that some customers are lucky enough to receive credits instead of debits from their electrical retailer. Unfortunately, those days are gone but it doesn’t mean you still can’t significantly reduce your bill. You just probably won’t eliminate it completely. For the majority of people solar is a great option and will save you a lot of money. For the lucky ones that already have lows bills though, it might be a different story.

What if I have small bills?

Let’s say your electricity bill is $300 a quarter. Approximately $90 of that is in service charges alone. That means your actual electricity bills is only $210 a quarter and you’re using approximately 9kWh of power each day.[i] If the majority of that consumption is at night and you can’t change your habits, then solar probably isn’t the way to go. However, if most of your consumption is during the day, let’s look at the return on investment.

Say you purchase a 3kW system for $3,500. That system will save you approximately $1.95 a day. This is on the assumption that you will consume 6kWs of the 12kWs of power your system produces and save yourself $1.50. You will then receive the solar FiT for the energy you didn’t consume and receive a credit of $0.45 per day. Giving you a total of $1.95 per day and approximately $175 a quarter. Now, saving $175 a year is still awesome but it’s a five-year return on investment and we usually like to see it sooner. These results don’t mean it’s a waste getting solar, it’s just important to look at what your true consumption is.

What if I have large bills?

Let’s take a look at the increased benefits if you have a high bill. If you bill is $800 a quarter, minus the service charge of $90 then your quarterly usage is $710 and you’re using approximately 31kWs a day.[ii]  Say you purchase a 6kW system for $6,500 and your system produces approximately 25kWhs a day. We know that you consume 31kWhs a day so let’s assume that 50% of that is at night so during the day you use 15kWs. You will save approximately $3.75 a day from the power you did not buy from the grid (15kWh x 0.25c). For the 10kWs you didn’t use, you will receive the solar FiT and earn an additional $0.73 (10kW x $0.0736). Giving you a daily savings of $4.48 and a yearly saving of approximately $1,600.

Having a small bill doesn’t mean solar won’t save you or you shouldn’t do it. It’s just important to look at all the factors that might affect your production or potential savings. Determining if your property and usage is suitable for solar is one of the best first steps you can take on your renewable energy journey.

 

[i] Based on the calculation: $210/90 days = $2.33 per day. $2.33 per day / 0.25c/kWh = 9.33kW per day.

[ii] Based on the calculation: $710/90 days = $7.88 per day. $7.88 per day / 0.25c/kWh = 31.55kW per day.

 

$5,000 Solar Rebates available for ACT Businesses

The ACT government has released a new rebate for small business owners to increase sustainability. Under the Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program, businesses in the ACT will be eligible to apply for rebates up to $5,000 to improve their businesses energy and water efficiency. Businesses could be eligible to apply for two rebates. One rebate will cover up to 50% of the costs of upgrades to more sustainable systems for lighting, appliances, heating or cooling, refrigeration, insulating, toilets and tapware. The other will can cover up to 50% of the cost of a commercial solar system.

Is my business eligible?

To qualify for either rebate your business needs to:

  • Be operating in the ACT.
  • Have electricity bills of up to $25,000 and/or
  • Employ a maximum of 20 people.
  • Have a commercial premise (home businesses don’t qualify).

How to apply for the Energy and Water Efficiency rebate

To apply for the rebate, you will need complete the application form found here and return it via email to businessenergy@act.gov.au.

If your application is successful, you will be contacted by an Actsmart energy assessor who will recommend improvements for your business to implement. Once you have completed the recommended improvements, you can claim back 50% of your investment or up to $5,000.

How to apply for the solar rebate

When applying for the solar rebate, you will be appointed a solar professional from Actsmart that will provide you with advice and support. Your solar professional will:

  • Provide advice on the basics of solar technology
  • Help to identify your solar requirements
  • Assist in navigating your quotes

To be eligible for the solar rebate your business must have participated in the Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program or have limited scope to do so. Prior to applying for the solar rebate, you will need to follow the above process and apply for both programs. Once you have been accepted, you will need to discuss your intention to apply for the solar rebate with your Actsmart energy assessor and complete the Solar pre-approval for rebate form found here.

Your application form and subsequent quote must be approved by your dedicated solar professional prior to you commencing works. Once you have approval you can go ahead with your solar install. Once the job is complete and paid, you will be able to claim 50% of the total cost of up to $5,000.

What if I already have solar but want to upgrade?

If you would like to add additional panels to your existing system, you could still be eligible as long as the combined size of the new and existing system is no greater than 30kW.

What if my business isn’t eligible?

If your business is not eligible for a solar rebate but you’re still interested in having solar installed, you can still contact Actsmart and speak to a solar professional. They will offer you free advice and can assist you in determining a reputable solar company to use for your installation. You can contact Actsmart on 13 22 81.

 

 

 

5 Ways To Be More Sustainable Right Now

I speak to people all the time who are shocked by how much effort I put into being more sustainable. I tell my mum about how I rinse my bottles and use the correct bins and she looks exhausted just hearing about it. Once upon a time it seemed simple; recycle and take shorter showers. But the truth is, it was never that easy, we were just ignorant to the damage we were doing to the planet. Here are 5 ways to be more sustainable without having to skip on the shower time.

Eat less meat

It is a shock to most people that eating meat has a negative impact on the environment but unfortunately, it’s the hard truth. The best thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to become a vegan. Now, I’m not suggesting you do that, just simply cut back. Especially on your red meat consumption. Methane gas is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and it is emitted when cows pass gas. You can reduce your carbon footprint by 25% just by cutting down on red meats such as lamb and beef.

Drive less

If you live in a large city, then you probably already catch public transport to work every day because it’s the best option. However, if you’re in a more regional area where public transport only comes once an hour or stops running at 4:00PM, then you’re probably less inclined. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to hang up the keys. If you carpool with friends and family when heading out, you can be more sustainable and enjoy a few drinks. If you have colleagues that live in the same neighbourhood, take turns carpooling. If something is in walking distance, make the conscious effort not to drive.

Reduce your waste

Take a look around your house and look for changes you could make to reduce your contribution to landfill:

  • Stop wasting food. Buy as you go or meal prep to avoid throwing food away
  • Create a compost for your fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Avoid buying things in unnecessary packaging
  • Make more food from scratch – you’ll buy less plastic and everything will taste better (hopefully)
  • Say no to plastic straws. We all know paper straws are disgusting so if you’re a ‘vodka soda’ kinda gal or guy, purchase a reusable straw and carry it around
  • Buy reusable produce bags – I got mine on Ebay for $7

Recycle

We’re told time and time again but how many of us actually do it? I’m not just talking about throwing your water bottle in the recycling bin when you’re at the beach. Buy two bins for inside your house to it’s easy to separate your rubbish. Do your research on what can and can’t be recycled. If office life has taught me anything it’s that most people don’t know what goes in what bin. Make sure that you clean out all containers before putting them in the recycling bin as contaminated rubbish will just go to landfill and your efforts will be wasted. Visit Planet Ark for details about recycling in your city.

Buy recycled and Organic products

I know sometimes recycled items might cost more but if we continue to purchase them, demand will increase competition and drive the price down, economics 101. Support companies that take the initiative to produce products using recycled materials, they are the future. Buy organic products that are free from harsh chemicals. Not only will it reduce pollution you’ll protect yourself from the unknown impacts it could have on your health.

Living a more sustainable life is easy if you just take it one step at a time. The Government has forced you to use reusable bags, now the rest is up to you!

Climate Change and the Federal Election. Who should I vote for?

For most of us, the federal election can be a confusing time. Trying to work out who to vote for is a difficult choice and unfortunately, a lot of the time we make an uninformed one. It’s important to do your research on the topics that matter most and make the choice that you feel is right for you. But it’s easier said than done. You’ve probably got a stack on letters on your kitchen table and are rejecting unknown callers left, right and center.

My best advice is to pick the top 3-5 issues that mean the most to you and research each parties’ policies. If Climate Change is at the top of your list, then I’ve done the hard work for you. Let’s take a look at what each major party is promising to protect the environment if they’re elected.

Liberal

The coalition’s environmental protection plan is more of a review of what they have done than what they are going to do. However, they have committed to meet our global emissions target of 26% to 28% by 2030.

The Liberal’s Climate Change Solutions Package includes the following objectives:

  • A $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund to help farmers, small businesses and Indigenous communities reduce their emissions and lower energy costs
  • Constructing Snowy 2.0
  • Bringing renewable energy from Tasmania to the mainland
  • Developing a National Electric Vehicle Strategy
  • Improving energy efficiency for households and businesses
  • The ‘Cleaner, Greener Local Communities’ initiative that will support local communities to reduce emissions and improve air and water quality

The LNP also has a long-term sustainability plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef, a Threatened Species Strategy, a National Landcare program and a National Food Waste Strategy.

Labor

The Labor Party is focusing on reducing ‘skyrocketing’ power prices. The ALP are promising cheaper, cleaner power with a plan to deliver 50% renewable energy by 2030. Here are some of their big goals to tackle climate change:

  • End power privatisation
  • Protect families and small businesses with a regulated power prices
  • Stronger gas controls
  • Support workers and communities transitioning from coal plants
  • Support businesses and communities with access to renewable energy and to cut waste
  • Set a national electric vehicle transport target of 50% new car sales by 2030
  • Help businesses and farmers to reduce pollution and tackle climate change

The Greens

As usual, The Greens have a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change and as usual it is one that will require a large budget. The Greens have a plan for ‘a renewable economy that tackles climate change’ which includes the following actions:

  • Phase out coal and move to 100% renewable energy by 2030
  • Create 180, 000 new jobs in renewables
  • Provide support for coal workers and communities
  • Create ‘Power Australia’ – a not-for-profit public energy retailer
  • Prioritise and properly fund clean, safe and affordable public transport & start the electric vehicle revolution
  • End political donations to mining companies

It seems like each party is taking the social pressure of acting against climate change seriously this year. There are a lot of promises to protect our planet, who do you think will follow through?

How to protect your business from the 2020 Tariff changes

In 2020 Ergon are removing some transitional tariffs that are going to affect farmers and businesses in Regional Queensland. For some businesses this change will enable them to save on their energy costs but for others it might mean higher energy rates.

What Tariffs are being removed?

Ergon are removing 4 tariffs that will affect businesses and 3 that will affect farmers. Below is a list of the tariffs that will expire and Ergon’s suggested alternative tariffs.

Current Tariff Type of business Transitional tariff type Alternative tariffs to consider
21 Small or large Anytime use 20 (most common), 22A, 24, 41, 44, 45, 46, 50
20L Large Anytime use 44, 45, 46, 50
22L Small or large Time of use 20, 22A, 24, 41, 44, 45, 46, 50
37 Small or large Time of use 20, 22A, 24, 44, 45, 46, 50
62 Farming Time of use 20, 22A, 24, 41, 44, 45, 46, 50
65 Farming Time of use 20, 22A, 24, 41, 44, 45, 46, 50
66 Farming Time of use 20, 22A, 24, 41, 44, 45, 46, 50

 

Why are these tariffs expiring?

These tariff changes are part of a government tariff reform in Queensland.

What should I do?

These tariff changes are happening and the best thing you can to is research your options. Make sure you know the benefits and disadvantages of all the alternatives tariffs so that you can make the right choice when the time comes. If you fail to change your tariff, you will be appointed a new default one and it may not be the best one for your business.  Make the most of your current tariff while your still have it and set yourself a reminder to change it before 30th June 2020.

How can I protect my business?

For some, these tariff changes will be positive, and you might see reduced energy costs. However, for others, these changes could result in higher energy rates and negatively affect your business.

An option to protect your business is to make the switch to solar. You might be thinking that we’re just taking the opportunity to sell you something, but in this case, it might be your best solution. If your only option is to switch to tariffs that will increase your energy prices, considering solar is worthwhile.

What if I can’t afford solar?

Horan & Bird can offer our customers a service call Solar Flex. This service enables homes and businesses to make the switch to solar without the capital outlay. In return, you simply pay us for what the system generates but at a reduced rate. This is a great option for those that will be affected by tariff changes as it gives businesses the opportunity to lock in a low daytime energy rate and reduce their risks associated with new tariffs.