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

Download Now

 

[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.