Safety Switches Save Lives

Safety switches are a life-saving device that minimise the risk of electric shocks, injuries, deaths and electricity-related fires.

Sadly, many homes across Australia still don’t have safety switches installed, which is a serious safety concern.

Master Electricians Australia (MEA) Chief Executive Officer, Malcolm Richards, said MEA has been calling for a nationwide rollout of safety switches since the three tragic electrocutions that occurred in 2009 and 2010. These tragedies sparked a significant interest in the issue of safety switches.

“A safety switch can shut off the power from an electric shock in just a few thousands of a second- faster than the critical phase of a heartbeat.

“Around 15 Australians are killed and 300 hospitalised every year as a result of electrical accidents that could have been prevented by a safety switch,” Mr Richards said.

Circuit breakers are used to protect cables from overloading, and it is highly recommended to have a safety switch installed on every circuit breaker in your house. This will ensure the safety of your household, and most importantly, the safety of your family.

Surprisingly, there is only legislation in place regarding the retrofit of safety switches in Queensland and Western Australia. However, through increased awareness and understanding of the importance of these life saving devices, we will be taking a step in the right direction for safer households across Australia.

Don’t risk it! Call us today and have your house checked by a qualified electrician and enjoy peace of mind in the safety of your family.

North QLD sparkies set to outshine Australia’s best’

North Queensland’s best and brightest sparkies are now in the running to take out top gongs at this year’s Master Electricians Australia (MEA) National Excellence Awards after being recognised for their outstanding contributions to the industry in the Sunshine State.

Horan & Bird, which provides its electrical services in Townsville, Cairns, Ayr and Mackay, is hoping to take out the coveted national award, after being announced as the North Queensland Accredited Master Electrician of the Year.

Horan & Bird Director John Horan said it was a huge honour to be recognised as the best in the top end, and he was looking forward to showcasing his business to the rest of the country.

“There are so many good quality tradies in North Queensland that it was certainly a surprise to be announced as the region’s Accredited Master Electrician of the Year,” Mr Horan said.

“With more than 14,000 North Queensland clients on our books, we strongly invest in providing outstanding customer service, which is one thing that really sets us apart from other contractors around the country.

“North Queensland sparkies punch well above their weight so I think all the winners from our region are a pretty good chance of taking out a national award next month.”

Horan and Bird also took out the award for Commercial Project of the Year for their work on the Walkabout Caravan Park in Townsville. The Apprentice of the Year award went to fourth year apprentice Samuel Whiting, also from Horan & Bird in Townsville.

The other winners of the North Queensland MEA Excellence Awards include:

  • Business Woman of the Year – Lisa Viczko from KP Walsh Electrics in Townsville
  • Residential Project of the Year – ADP Electrical Pty Ltd for their project on Sundown Road, Innisfail
  • Industrial/Mining Project of the Year – ICS Electrical Contractors for their Townsville Port Upgrade for Glencore

The North Queensland winners will now go on to battle out against the other states, with national winners announced at a gala dinner during MEA’s 2014 Electrical Industry Conference at Noosa on September 27.

MEA Queensland State Manager Stephen King said the awards were a wonderful opportunity to recognise outstanding quality, attention to detail and high standards of professionalism within the industry.

“Being an Accredited Master Electrician is all about being the best in the business with a commitment to safety, reliability and innovation,” Mr King said.

“It was fantastic to see so many nominations from North Queensland sparkies who are excelling in all of these areas and really raising the bar to provide the highest levels of workmanship and electrical safety.

“Winners from the other states are going to have a really tough time knocking these stellar North Queensland contractors off the podium at the national awards.”

Interview opportunities available.  Contact Rebecca Manley at SAS Media & Communications on (07) 3171 2960 or 0404 799 896

You Haven’t Missed the Boat with Solar

A lot of people have told us that they haven’t gone with solar because they missed out on the 44 cent Feed in Tariff.  However there is a new way to go solar in Australia which maybe an even better deal for many people.  You can now go solar without having to pay for the system and you can save money on your power bill right away. It is called a “Solar Power Purchase Agreement” (PPA)

People who got the 44 cent feed in tariff did get a great deal, however many had to pay more than $12,000 to get a 5kW solar system to save approximately $1500 to $2500 a year on their energy bill.

With a Power Purchase Agreement we will install a solar system on your roof for $0.*  You will then lock in a low energy rate as low as 12 cents a kWh for your day time electricity from this solar system*.  Currently people are paying up to 25 cents a kWh for their daytime power.  It is possible to save up to $1000 per year on your power bill and you have paid $0 for a solar system.

The solar system will be monitored and you will not have to worry about ongoing maintenance or repairs for the length of the agreement.  You will also have the opportunity to buy out the solar system if you choose or transfer the contract if you wish to sell your house.

“You can save on your power bill right away and put the up-front cost of a solar system towards a holiday or possibly a  new kitchen” John Horan Director Horan & Bird.

Call Horan & Bird and have one of our team explain how it all works.

Ph:  (07) 4721 3022


*You may incur costs in order for your property to be solar ready (e.g electrical works to switchboard, roof repairs, meter upgrade or changeover. Solar energy rate is subject to change for CPI annually or change in law. Your Solar Power Purchase Agreement.  Licence No: 74602

Solar Power Purchase Agreement is a Game Changer

The Queensland Government is going full steam ahead with its goal to have 1 million homes in Queensland with solar panels.  Energy Minister, Mark Bailey, also confirmed at the Solar 2015 conference in Melbourne that the Government is committed to generate 50% of the State’s energy from renewables by the year of 2030.  To achieve these goals the Queensland Government is urging the public to consider Solar Power Purchase Agreements (SPPA), which have been extremely popular in countries such as the USA.

A SPPA is when a customer has a solar system installed on their roof for $0 and locks in a low cost contract with their Solar/Energy Company to purchase the electricity the solar system creates.  The solar system is then monitored and maintained by the Energy Company.  The contracts vary in length from 7 to 15 Years.  SPPA’s are not for everybody, however, with modifications and the use of smart timers and small lifestyle changes customers can achieve significant savings.

For example, timers can be used to maximise appliances such as hot water systems and pool pumps to operate while solar systems are working to achieve great results.  Customers can also program dishwashers, washing machines and dryers to operate during daylights hours and to finish in time for when you get home from work.

SPPA’s are going to be a game changer for customers who may not be able to afford a solar system outright. For many customers, SPPA’s are going to achieve simular savings to those with solar systems.  SPPA’s are also very popular for business owners who can achieve large savings in energy costs without having to spend capital on a solar system. In fact, up to 60% of their power bill. Business owners can put capital towards growing their business in other areas.

For some customers, you will be able to lock in rates as low as 12 to 16* cents a kWH during daylight hours.  Currently, home and business owners are paying anywhere between 25 to 45 cents a kWH for daytime electricity.  The savings are significant.

If you are interested in finding out if your house or business is suitable for a SPPA, please register below:

*Note you may incur costs in order to have your property solar ready such as electrical works to switchboard. Solar Energy rates is subject to change for CPI annually and change in law.

Are Solar Returns better than Money in the Bank?

Residential home owners and business owners are still flocking to solar even without feed-in tariffs.

With the latest drop in interest rates, along with expensive prices for electricity, solar is a very attractive investment.  Even though there are very limited feed-in tariffs, solar may be anywhere between 15 – 22% on its investment depending on your method of payment and energy tariffs.

For example, a 3kW solar system worth $5,800 will save the average family approximately $1,100 per year in electricity that needs to be purchased from the energy retailer. That is a return of about 19%.  This looks very attractive in comparison to the average term deposit rate of approximately 3% which the banks are offering.

Furthermore, home owners now have the opportunity to redraw from their home loans at rates as low as 4.75% to invest in solar for their house. This provides them with a return up to 22%.

“It is seriously a no-brainer if you can use the banks money at 4.75% and solar could make returns of 20%” said John Horan, Director of Horan & Bird.

“Get advice from your accountant, but business owners can also claim the interest which makes the returns even greater”.

Landlords are also installing solar on their investment properties to attract tenants.

It is important to know that although the solar panels come with a 25 year warranty, they still require maintenance and cleaning.  Even after taking the required regular maintenance into consideration, the return on investment for solar remains extremely attractive. Over 1.3 Million homes in Australia are now benefitting.

Important information: These calculations are estimations only and you should consult with your accountant or financial advisor for advice.

New Year’s Energy Efficient Resolutions

Another year is upon us already and again, we find ourselves making new resolutions. From vowing to become fit and healthy or aiming to spend more quality time with friends and family, the thought of becoming energy efficient probably isn’t one that springs to mind. With a range of great advantages, including both environmental and economical, it’s a wonder more people don’t seriously consider it. You can guarantee that the decision to improve your energy efficiency around the household will be a resolution worth sticking to!

Not only will you be doing your valuable part in helping our environment and contributing to a cleaner and greener future, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the significant savings on your power bill. This could be extra money in your pocket to spend on your other resolutions!

Here are a few energy efficient tips to consider around your household this New Year:

  • Replace inefficient appliances and lighting: If your homes refrigerators, dishwashers and other appliances aren’t performing up to standard, chances are they’re drastically increasing your energy use and it’s time to consider new ones. Additionally, LED lighting is extremely energy efficient and will make you substantial savings.
  • Consider upgrading: When was the last time you checked if any of your electrical equipment required upgrading? New and improved products will maximise performance and savings and they also ensure the safety of your home and family.
  • Make the Solar Switch: Slash your power bill with solar! Solar will allow you to enjoy substantial savings for the long-term and you will be able to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Prepare your home for the Cyclone Season: It’s important to take every measure possible to keep your home and family safe in such an unfortunate weather event. Ensure you take any required action to help prevent equipment damage too. Cyclones have the ability to cause serious electrical hazards which is why it’s crucial to follow the appropriate safety precautions at all times.
  • Stay Smart: Be aware of your energy usage and consider setting yourself a goal to successfully reduce it. Simple things such as turning off lights when no one is in the room all make a significant difference.

These tips are just a few helpful suggestions on how you can successfully improve your overall energy efficiency. Don’t let rising electricity costs stress you out this year- make some changes around your home today and start enjoying the savings!

Don’t forget to share these energy saving tips and tricks with your family and friends to help them beat their power bills too.  Let’s Go Green in 2015!

Builders Need to Adapt to a Changing World

Well-designed, energy efficient homes are sparking an increased interest among the public and new builders are in support of the innovation and design of green homes.

Homebuyers are looking to limit their household expenses now more than ever. Energy efficient homes have the ability to work wonders in saving people substantial amounts on their power bills.

John Futer, HIA North Queensland Executive Director, said that we are seeing an enormous increase in public interest for a responsibly designed, energy efficient home.

“Solar panels are now powering many new homes with clean and affordable solar power energy saving new homeowners ‘mega bucks’ on their home electricity bills”.

John Futer said that approximately half of the home buying or renovating public have an interest and awareness in the need to reduce energy use in our communities.

Horan & Bird are committed to offering our customers greater choice in sustainable energy efficient solutions now, and in the future.

Whether it may be solar, air-conditioning, energy efficient lighting, or advice on tariffs, our team’s here to help combat the growing concern of rising electricity prices for our customers.

We’re excited to help our customers jump on board the green home innovation.

“With the price of electricity eventually moving to ‘Time of Use’ billing, it is critical that builders are building houses to suit, or customers are going to be very disappointed in twelve months’ time,” said Director John Horan.

The price for electricity being used between 4pm and 8pm could be as high as 59 cents per kWh (recommended price in the latest QCA draft for 2015).  For example, houses built with an electric stove will be at a major disadvantage and gas cooking will be critical.

“New homes have to be wired now for time of use billing.  Circuits need to be integrated with the home so appliances and equipment can maximise cheaper billing times and solar systems.  It can actually be cheaper to go back to an electric hot water system  connected to your grid connected solar system instead of spending an extra $4000 on a heat pump or solar hot water system,” said John Horan.

New homebuyers are encouraged to carefully consider smart energy efficient homes. Not only will you enjoy the savings on your power bills, but it was also add undeniable value to your home in the future to potential tenants or buyers.

As technology continues to advance, new and improved products become available which means there are always exciting new ways for homes to improve their energy efficiency.

For many, a simple review of their current household situation and consumption will provide a range of valuable options detailing ways to improve the overall energy efficiency of their home.

It’s important for residents to be aware of which tariff their household is using and to also understand how to effectively utilise their energy consumption in accordance to maximise savings.

As the innovation of the green home continues to emerge and evolve, homebuyers and renovators should be excited about the greater choice in sustainable solutions and energy efficiency that will follow.

Stay Smart & Stay Cool

As the temperature continues to rise, it’s no secret we find ourselves reaching for our air-conditioner remote to beat the heat.

Throughout the hot summer months, air-conditioners almost become a necessity here in North Queensland.

This luxury does come with a costly price, which has the ability to take us by complete surprise. The harsh reality of our summer power bill is often an accurate reflection of our homes maximised use of air-conditioners.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your comfort this summer in fear of your next power bill. Through careful consideration and sensible behaviour, you can significantly help reduce your electricity costs.

If you still have box air-conditioners installed in your home, it is highly recommended to have these replaced with a split system. Split systems are energy efficient which means they are significantly cheaper to run than box air-conditioners, and they will make you substantial savings.

Whether you’re considering purchasing air-conditioners for your home for the first time, or simply upgrading, it’s essential to select an energy efficient system that is the right size for your home.

Energy efficiency is one of the most important factors to successfully reduce your air-conditioner running costs.

Daikin air-conditioners are not only energy efficient, but they are also reliable, providing you with peace of mind in your investment.

“Daikin split systems are the most economical on the market” said Horan & Bird Director, John Horan.

“They have an intelligent eye system which is a built in infrared motion sensor.

If no activity is detected in a room, the air-conditioner automatically changes to energy -efficient mode and can even switch off if required”.

Here at Horan & Bird we offer only the best quality and trusted brands.

You can count on us to design and install an air-conditioning system suited directly to your requirements.

Our team has extensive experience and knowledge that will guarantee you receive the right advice, the first time.

Types of air-conditioners

Split Systems

Split systems are significantly quieter than box-air conditioners and they will help reduce your electricity bill.

There are several types of split systems available:

  • Split system:  These systems are versatile and have very limited noise.
  • Inverter multi-system: Multiple indoor units can be connected to one outdoor inverter rather than several inverters.
  • Ducted system: This is a fully integrated unit for cooling a home.

Box air-conditioners

Box air-conditioners are generally cheaper to purchase than split systems, however they are more expensive to run.  Unlike split systems, box air-conditioners are quite noisy and often cause wall vibration.

Important factors to consider when purchasing or upgrading an air-conditioner:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Reliability
  • Selecting the correct size for your home

Be smart, be sensible and save!

  • Temperature: It is recommended to set your air-conditioner at 25 degrees Celsius during summer. You’ll be surprised at the savings you can make by simply selecting the right temperature.
  • Switch it off:  If no one’s home or using the room, don’t forget to turn your air-conditioners off.
  • Fans: Consider using fans to keep cool.
  • Maintenance: It’s important to maintain your air-conditioners regularly.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call our office on 1300 467 262.

Keep your cool & save on your Summer Power Bill

The combination of rising power prices and the onset of the upcoming hotter months of summer is a cringe worthy thought for many of us.

During summer we tend to crank up our air-conditioner which causes our electricity usage to skyrocket. Next thing we know, we are left shaking our head in disbelief at our dreaded summer power bill.

Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways that will effectively help reduce your high summer bill.

Here are a few handy hints on how to cut your costs this summer through the consideration of air-conditioning, electrical and solar.


Do you still have box air-conditioners in your home?

It’s no secret that air-conditioners are our best friend in summer, but they will also be your power bill’s worst enemy.

Being smart about your air-conditioner use and efficiency will play a key role in reducing your energy consumption. If you are still using box air-conditioners in your home, it’s important to consider replacing them with Inverter Split-systems. Split-systems are more efficient than box air-conditioners, which will work wonders in saving you money.

Not only will split system air-conditioners help reduce your next power bill, but they will remove the noise, wall vibration, mosquito breeding sites and frog problems that you may otherwise face with box air-conditioners.

Regular maintenance of your air-conditioners is also crucial to ensure they are running efficiently.

Remember that you should set your air-conditioners to 24 or 25 degrees Celsius. For every one degree that you raise your air-conditioner temperature, you can save up to 10 per cent off running costs.


Are you using energy efficient lighting in your household?

A simple switch to the use of LED lights in your household will indefinitely save you on your summer bill. LED lights are extremely energy efficient and they have a very long lifespan, saving you now, and into the future. LED lights use approximately 85% less energy than halogen or incandescent lighting.

When considering that the average household has between 30 to 40 light bulbs, imagine the effect you could have by replacing each one with an energy efficient bulb.

Don’t forget the simple things such as making a habit of switching lights off around the home when you’re not using them- everything helps!


Making the switch to solar will not only contribute to a cleaner and greener future, but it will drastically reduce your power bills now, and into the future. The installation of a solar system on your home is one of the most beneficial, and cost-effective investments you can make!

For solar consumers there are a few important things to consider to ensure you’re utilising your solar investment to its full potential and to help slash your summer power bill!

  • Are you on the right Feed-in tariff?
    It’s crucial for solar consumers to be aware of the feed-in tariff they are currently using, and of course, to understand how to effectively utilise their energy use in accordance. Speak to one of our Energy Consultants today and find out if a Time-of-use tariff could offer you a cheaper supply of power!
  • Maintenance & monitoring
    Regular maintenance and on-going monitoring of your solar system is important to make sure it is performing both effectively and safely. By doing this you will be able to maintain your system’s efficiency and of course, you will enjoy the maximised savings!
  • Stay upgraded
    We want you to be getting the most from your solar system, so when there is an opportunity for you to be able to generate even more renewable energy, you need to know! Find out if your system requires any upgrades today for the chance to increase your savings.

By increasing your understanding of your household’s energy consumption and how your solar system will effectively work in reducing your electricity costs, you will be able to make the most of your solar investment.

If you have any questions regarding Horan & Bird’s services or about ways we can  help reduce your summer power bill please call our office on 1300 467 262.

Daylight Saving would Save Millions for North Queensland

Without a doubt, the economy here in North Queensland is doing it extremely tough. For North Queensland to overcome this we need to adapt to the new world.  To successfully adjust, sometimes we must embrace change. This is not a popular subject and it will unquestionably ruffle some feathers.  It is important, however, to point out the huge benefits daylight saving would have in helping to reduce our power bills.

North Queensland is being subsidised almost $650 million by the Government to keep our power bills at their existing level.  Without this subsidy, places like Cairns would be paying about $1 per kWH for electricity and Townsville around 50 cents per kWH, instead of the current price of approximately 28 cents.

The main contributing factor to the high cost of electricity in North Queensland is the demand we place on power during peak periods. These peak periods are between the times of 4 pm and 8 pm, which is when the majority of us come home from work. We cook dinner, take a hot shower, turn on our television, air-conditioners, and many other household appliances.

Ergon is now turning to Time of Use metering to combat this huge problem.  However, if North Queensland moved to daylight savings, solar power would still be working effectively  to reduce large parts of our peak usage between 4 pm and 7:30 pm.  In 2015, there will be almost 50,000 houses in North Queensland with solar power.

Daylight saving has the ability to reduce the peak demand significantly. Undoubtedly, people with solar will benefit massively, however, it’s also important to remember that daylight saving would drive down costs for all of us. Additionally, it would enable private investments to fix the problem which will save tax payers.

One of North Queensland’s greatest assets is sunlight and it makes sense for us to utilise it to its full potential. Our economy would significantly benefit if we could funnel some of that annual $650 million into infrastructure projects in North Queensland instead of fossil fuel emissions.