Reducing utility costs for leased and licensed premises
The cost of utilities such as energy and water can be some of the largest ongoing expenses your organisation incurs. By becoming more utility efficient, you can potentially reduce utility usage and costs.
One of the most important factors in energy management is ensuring you have the correct measures in place to adequately provide your organisation's energy needs at the lowest cost.
There are several measures that can assist with reducing energy costs and/or consumption including:
- behavioural change programs (switch-off campaigns)
- free energy audits
- installing timers
- lighting and hot water system upgrades
- provider discounts
- sports lighting system controllers
- solar photovoltaic systems
- upgrading insulation and air conditioning.
Explore the options and identify those suitable for your facility and operations.
Basic energy management principles
- Develop a clear understanding of your energy bill and what makes up your energy costs. Electricity bills differ from retailer to retailer, but all essentially contain the same information.
- Take action to reduce your organisation's electricity bill.
- Whilst it varies depending on your facility and activities, look at lighting and lighting control (e.g. sports lighting system controllers) and star ratings of appliances, hot water systems, and air conditioning.
- If you pay different amounts for your electricity at peak and off-peak times, there may be opportunities to reduce costs by shifting your consumption to off-peak times.
- Speak to your energy provider or identify organisations that offer free energy audits to identify measures that best suit your premises and operations.
- Make sure you pay the least you need to for the energy you use by comparing retailer electricity plans and provider discounts to help you choose a plan that is cheapest for your location and use. You can also contact your peak body to investigate bulk purchasing options.
- Consider whether generating your own energy makes sense for your organisation. In most cases, this means looking at installing solar panels and possibly batteries.
- Consider the installation of smart electricity meters. They often have no upfront costs and small outgoing costs. The retailer manages the installation and maintenance and data can be viewed online or provided upon request.
It is important your organisation takes an active role in determining the most appropriate energy provider and employs effective ways to reduce ongoing energy costs.
If your organisation is looking to invest in any energy-saving systems, it is important you clearly understand the:
- cost of installation and the lifecycle of the system, including replacement costs and ongoing maintenance requirements (e.g. servicing)
- potential energy savings the system offers in relation to your usage needs versus the cost of installation, replacement and maintenance
- limitations of each system (e.g. estimated life span) and any environmental and operational requirements to be effective
- impact site constraints (e.g. existing roof load capability) can have on your ability to install a system.
You need to determine the most appropriate system for your site and usage requirements to maximise the potential benefit to your organisation.
For further advice before planning the implementation of any energy-saving system, phone Brisbane City Council on 07 3403 8888. If a system is considered appropriate for your leased/licensed premises, you can then obtain Council's approval as landlord via the Application for works on a community lease site process prior to undertaking the works.
Free energy audits
Free energy audits
You can obtain free energy audits from most leading energy providers.
Ecobiz offers advice on how to cut costs and increase efficiencies across energy, water, and waste tailored to your organisation, and provides a report outlining actionable no-cost, low-cost and high-cost initiatives.
There are several organisations that offer comparisons of energy providers to assist you in choosing the most appropriate energy provider. Simply search for 'energy provider comparisons'.
Some energy providers, when asked, also offer discounted rates.
Sports lighting system controllers
Sports lighting system controllers
Sports field lighting system controllers can assist to save on electricity costs and enable convenient control and management of sport lighting installations.
Lighting controllers enable you to operate the lights securely via a smartphone, enable individual field lights to be set to go on and off at different times and can set lockout times for each field to avoid unnecessary energy consumption and neighbour complaints.
You can install lighting system controllers without having to upgrade your sports field lights.
There are several providers in Brisbane who can install sports lighting system controllers.
Visit our Sports field and hard-court lighting page for more information on energy-saving lighting, how to obtain approval to upgrade or install sports field and hard-court lighting, and tips on what to consider when planning a lighting project.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems
Before making the decision to install a solar PV system, it is important to consider whether the investment will be worthwhile for your organisation. There are a wide range of products and retailers on the market and many factors you should consider when planning your project.
As a Council tenant, you also have obligations under the terms of your lease that you'll need to carefully consider when making your final decision.
The installation of solar may provide your organisation with the following benefits:
- reduced electricity use and associated cost savings
- an offset or potentially an additional cash flow where excess production from your system is exported from your site
- reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Tenants can choose any provider for the installation of a solar PV system provided they are Clean Energy Council certified and use Clean Energy Council approved panels and inverters.
Some energy providers will assist you by conducting an obligation-free site electricity assessment with your organisation to determine if a solar PV system will be beneficial.
A solar PV system designer can model previous electricity consumption to determine the optimum system size. Your organisation should have its existing electricity usage information available for assessment (i.e. electricity statements from the last two years).
Consider the following things before obtaining an assessment to install a solar PV system.
- Is the facility open during daylight hours (6am to 6pm)?
- Does the facility open at least four to five days a week?
- Is the air conditioning or refrigeration used regularly?
- Is the roof partly or fully shaded?
- Are there any known changes to consumption in the future (e.g. extended opening hours or new planned new equipment)?
Apply for approval from Council, as the landlord, to install an energy-saving system via the Application for works on a community lease site process prior to undertaking works. Ensure you provide all required information in your application to avoid delays in processing.
To assess your proposal, Council will require quotes outlining the scope of works and confirmation of intent to provide fully compliant systems. The quotes should detail:
1. project cost including:
- total cost before any rebates
- total value of any rebates associated with small-scale technology certificates (STC) and how many certificates are created from the project
- any additional works required and associated costs (e.g. switchboard upgrades, site-specific installation issues, roof sheet replacement, network protection, extra meters, export limiting devices (if required by Energex), or subscriptions for ongoing monitoring).
2. solar system details including:
- system size (typically in kW of installed solar panels), as well as the inverter rated capacity (kW)
- expected annual solar generation from the system
- quote from the retailer on the expected annual savings based on your electricity tariff
- how much solar production is expected to be exported to the grid, and if you electricity provider offers a feed in tariff for this export
- whether the roof can structurally support the weight of the proposed solar system (obtain confirmation from a qualified installer)
- confirmation the new system uses Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited inverters and panels, including exact model and series numbers (mandatory for STC rebate)
- confirmation the system will be designed and installed by a CEC accredited professional and that the installer will be appropriately qualified as a Registered Electrical Contractor Queensland (RECQ). Certification numbers should be provided on the quote and are mandatory for the STC rebate
- warranty details for the panels, inverters, mounting system, as well as any performance guarantees.
Consider if the new solar system is quoted at a reasonable cost.
Use the Clean Energy Regulator Calculator to check the number of small-scale technology certificates (STC) that will be generated and their value.
Refer to the Clean Energy Council's guide to installing solar PV for more information and an installation checklist for each stage in the process.
Resources and support
For more information on selecting the right energy plan, understanding your bill, and ways to reduce your energy consumption, visit Energy Made Easy.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's (CCIQ) ecoBiz is a free program, funded by the Queensland Government, that helps organisations save money across their energy, water and waste bills. ecoBiz also provides benchmarking assistance to help track resource use, as well as on-site coaching sessions to help identify and implement cost-saving sustainability initiatives.
The Energy Rating website provides information about the E3 Program to increase the energy efficiency of appliances to reduce energy use, emissions and help save you money.
The cost of water consumption, especially if you have sports field on your leased/licensed premises, can be one of your organisation's largest ongoing expenses.
There are several options available to assist in the reduction of water consumption, from finding a suitable alternate water source such as rainwater, water bores, and stormwater harvesting, or installing water-efficient irrigation systems and water fittings. These may be effective in the right circumstance and could be appropriate for your organisation.
One of the most important factors in maintaining quality sports fields is to correctly manage and schedule an irrigation program. Many irrigation systems are weather-sensitive, stopping automatic systems from irrigating during or after rainfall, and there is good advice available to help you choose the right turf and maintain it correctly for the conditions. Irrigation Australia can provide information and advice, as well as accredited landscapers and irrigation companies who are trained in efficient irrigation systems.
To reduce water consumption, taps, toilets, and showers can also be upgraded to more water-efficient products. Look for products with a high WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme) rating or seek guidance from ecoBiz or similar auditors to help you calculate your use. The WELS rating is designed to help you make informed choices about the water efficiency of products you buy and use.
Regular maintenance of your water consumption sources and checking for leaks will also help your organisation reduce any unnecessary water usage.
Things to consider when looking to install a water-saving system
If your organisation is looking to invest in water-saving systems or alternate water source options, it is critical you investigate and understand the:
- cost of the lifecycle of such assets, their replacement costs, and ongoing maintenance requirements such as pump servicing, as well as upfront installation costs
- potential water savings the system offers versus the cost of installation, maintenance, and potential replacement
- limitations of each system (e.g. rainwater tanks and stormwater harvesting are only effective during rain periods) and the potential for changes in water quality, as well as treatment requirements of alternate water sources
- site constraints that may impact installation, and/or the cost to construct it (e.g. being located on a closed landfill site, or you have limited available space to install large tanks).
Prior to planning for any water-saving systems, tenants of Council's community facilities should obtain further advice by phoning Council on 07 3403 8888. Council can help you determine the best system for your site and usage requirements to maximise the potential benefit to your organisation.
If a water-saving system is considered appropriate for your leased premises, you must obtain Council's approval, as landlord, via the Application for works on a community lease site process prior to undertaking any works.
Resources and support
Visit the detecting leaks section on theUrban Utilities website for tips on detecting a suspected leak.
Read the water leaks, blockages and plumbing section on our Managing issues on a community leased or licensed premises page.
Irrigation Australia Ltd is Australia's peak national not-for-profit organisation representing the Australian irrigation industry in all sectors and provides information on a range of irrigation related areas including rainwater harvesting, waterwise programs, types of irrigation, and design guidelines, as well as accredited training and education.
Visit our Sports field management page for more information about how to effectively manage sports fields and what to do during drought periods.
The Queensland Government's Active playing surfaces fact sheet provides tips on planning, irrigation installation, and maintenance of active playing surfaces.
For further advice about how to reduce your utility costs and obtain Council approval to install utility saving systems on a community leased premises, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.