$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.

Horan & Bird has Developed Technology to Harness Solar Energy at Night

GOTCHA!

Not Sure How To Use Your Solar? Find Out Here

How to use your Solar might seem obvious but for many of us that don’t know much about solar or are seeking advice from friends or family, it could get a little confusing.

If you’re on the 44c Feed-in Tariff

If your solar was installed before 2013 then you are probably on the 44c Feed-in Tariff and have always been told to export all your solar electricity back to the grid. This is because you are better off exporting all your solar to the grid and receiving 44c for every kilowatt produced than consuming it. Be aware that if you are on the 44c FiT and you want to make changes to your system, that you may lose your eligibility. Visit the QLD Government website to find out what changes would affect your Feed-in-Tariff.

If you’re on the Solar Feed-in Tariff for regional QLD

However, if your solar was installed after 2013 or you are considering having it installed now, the way you use your solar is a little bit different. The current feed-in tariff in Queensland is 9.36c. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still save hundreds of dollars a year on your electricity bill. You just need to consume your solar rather than exporting it. Now you may be worried that you’re not home all day and you can’t consume your electricity when the sun is shining.

What if I’m not home during the day?

Timers are a marvelous thing and luckily, most new appliances have them built in. You can set your dishwasher and washing machine to turn on during the day when you’re at work. Most solar companies will also assist you in purchasing a hot water timer so that your solar will power your hot water system and you don’t need to purchase a separate system or switch to gas to save. Of course, the biggest energy consumer of all is the pool pump. Homeowners will spend $800-$1200 a year maintaining their pool[i]. Thankfully, you can set a timer to have your solar run your pool pump during the day as well.

Maintain your system

It is imperative that you maintain your system to ensure you get the maximum benefit from it. We recommend having your system cleaned at least once every 12 months and making sure there are no shading issues that may impact your system performance.

Thinking about going Solar?

Horan & Bird have a number of options available to help you save with solar. Click here and complete the form and we will get in touch, or alternatively give us a call on 1300 467 262.

Horan & Bird 2018 Recap – How are we travelling?

2018 has been a big year for Horan & Bird and it seemed like a good idea to look back and recap some of the highlights.

Expansions.

Horan & Bird entered new territory this year. Expanding into Emerald, Gladstone, The Sunshine Coast and crossing the border to Adelaide and Perth. While some locations have been more successful than others, every new location is a step in the right direction. Adelaide has been the 2018 hotspot for the company with two Energy Specialists in the region and 60 systems sold in the first 4 months.

People.

H&B not only grew geographically but in personnel too. In 2018 the company employed 41 new people in 3 locations and created 19 new roles.

Residential.

In 2018 Horan & Bird installed 2,136 new solar systems. While the days of the 44c Feed-in-Tariff remains our benchmark for installs, 2018 has been a record year for Solar Flex. This year alone we have installed 1,479 Solar Flex systems, a 25% increase from last year’s install numbers.

Commercial.

Our commercial portfolio has also grown this year, with a large portion of it contributing to our penetration into rural farming markets. In 2018, H&B installed 416 new commercial systems with 385 of those being Solar Flex deals.

Our impact.

2018 has seen Horan & Bird install 15 megawatts of solar which is 58,000 panels. That 15 megawatts of solar has done more than help H&B grow and expand. We have saved the environment from approximately 20,411 tonnes of carbon emissions[i] and saved our customers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Looking forward.

Horan & Bird’s Group Manager, John Horan hopes that 2019 will be our biggest year to date. “We are currently in the process of bringing on more partners in Adelaide and we hope to expand into Victoria and New South Wales in the New Year. We also hope to increase the number of new solar battery installations to help our customers save even more.”

Solar Flex – How does it look 12 months on?

Twelve months ago, Mary & Michael had a 6kW solar system installed using a Solar Flex Power Purchase Agreement with Horan and Bird. Solar Flex is where you pay $0 for the solar system and you pay for the solar electricity that the system generates but at rates that are up to 60% less than what you pay directly to from grid.

In light of Mary & Michael’s Solar Flex anniversary we investigated the financial and environmental impact of their system in the last 12 months. Prior to having Solar Flex installed, Mary & Michael were spending $600 a quarter and $2,400 a year on their electricity bill. 12 months on and the couple have saved $605.32 for the year and approximately $150 a quarter without having to purchase the system.

Going solar not only helps you save money on your energy bill, it also helps to reduce your carbon footprint. In the 12 months since having their system installed, Mary & Michael have also saved the environment from 8.95 tonnes of carbon emissions. The average Australia produces approximately 16 tonnes of carbon emissions per year which means that Mary & Michael have reduced their carbon footprint by almost 25% just be going solar!

To find out how you can save on your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint call us on 1300 467 262 or click here and complete the form and we’ll be in touch.

How Indigenous Australians are leading the way in sustainability

In early 2018, Horan and Bird provided Solar to Girudala, a community organisation that supports education, sustainability, health, housing and employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Whitsunday region. Over the past 30 years Girudala’s housing program has become one of the largest in North Queensland with a portfolio of 55 homes and an Elders Homestead of 8 units in the Bowen and Proserpine area.

The Beginning

Girudala, is a well known asset to the Bowen community and Solar Flex was a great way to help the community thrive by reducing their operating costs. After meeting with the Horan and Bird team, the Girudala Group had a Solar Flex system installed on the head office in George Street. After seeing the savings, they decided to have Solar Flex systems installed on all 55 residential properties.

Being a not-for-profit organisation that aims to provide affordable housing, Solar Flex was the perfect option for Girudala, Solar Flex has enabled their residents to save money and be more sustainable without having to increase the businesses operating expenses.

Present day

The Horan and Bird team recently met with some of the residents to see how they were going and assess how much they were saving. The team calculated that on average they are saving anywhere between $600-$1,200 a year on their electricity bill.

How it’s affecting the residents

Paul is a resident of Girudala, and he is saving on average $300 a quarter on his energy bills. Paul said that he was a bit skeptical about Solar Flex in the beginning but after seeing the savings straight away he was pleasantly surprised. Paul told us that he uses a bill paying account and at the end of the year there is always a return left over from his electricity bill. “It’s like having a mini-Christmas fund” Paul White stated.

Contact us

Horan and Bird’s sales manager Paul Horan hopes to help more communities like Girudala across Australia. To find out more, contact the team on 1300 467 262.

    

Where are we now?

In the past three years, Horan and Bird have grown rapidly across Queensland expanding their reach from Atherton to the Gold Coast.  In recent months, Horan and Bird have crossed the border venturing into South Australia and Western Australia.

In August this year Horan and Bird employed their first two Energy Specialists in Adelaide to provide residents and businesses in The Festival State with Solar Flex: a solar solution that allows you to go solar without paying for the system.* South Australia is the clean energy leader in Australia with 45 percent of electricity being generated by renewables in 2017.  With the boom of renewables in SA it’s no wonder Horan and Bird have already sold 50 systems in the first 2 months. Sales manager Paul Horan expects Solar Flex sales to grow even further in the area and reach 3 megawatts in the next 12 months.

This month Horan and Bird have also employed their first Energy Specialist in Perth, Western Australia. WA is at the opposite end of the renewables race with only 7.5 percent of energy produced by clean energy in 2017. Despite the lack of large scale renewable energy projects, The Golden State has the second highest small-scale solar installs in the country. Horan and Bird expect to see the same growth in Western Australia that they have seen in South Australia and Queensland.

To arrange your free Solar Flex consultation, click here.

Stay tuned for more expansions…

*You may incur other costs in order for your property to be solar ready (such as electrical works, cabling or roof repairs) and for meter upgrade or changeover.
^Solar energy rate is subject to change for CPI annually and change in law.