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Can sustainable business practices help your bottom line?

By understanding where your energy is going, you can save money and reduce your energy footprint – while helping your business keep pace with changing market demands.

Being more sustainable can help your business thrive. You just need to choose the solutions that work best for your business.

By looking at your overall sustainability goals and understanding where your energy is going, you can save money and reduce your energy footprint – while also helping your business keep pace with changing market demands.

“Most small business owners are concerned with the rising costs and pressures of managing their operations. But, as a general rule of thumb, most sustainable or energy efficiency business initiatives can generate a positive return on investment, some in less than three years" says Josh Bower, Senior Manager – Sales for Sustainable Business Energy Solutions at AGL.

And that’s before you consider the value and flow-on effects of implementing sustainable initiatives from a marketing or sales perspective, with a view to generating additional revenue or attracting new customers.

“There are a lot of upsides because ultimately, it all contributes towards the bottom line,” Bower adds.

Understanding where your energy is going

Our focus is on energy sustainability, which can be one part of a small business sustainability strategy.

Bower suggests small businesses complete an overall sustainability audit, identifying key areas important to them to help guide their decision-making.

“From an energy perspective, the first thing you need to understand is where and how you consume electricity. From there. you can identify which aspects of your operation you can make more efficient,” he says.

“So, if you think you want to install a solar system, first you would try to reduce your energy consumption through simple things that don’t need an upfront investment.”

Josh suggests things like shifting your business activities to times of day when electricity prices are cheaper depending on your retail tariff, or simply turning things off when not using them instead of leaving them on standby. And there are lower-cost investments, like LED lighting, which generally will generate a better return on investment than a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

“Once you understand your consumption you can come up with a whole list of different ways to work toward your sustainability goals. Then you can rank those different activities based on order of ease, which require the most capital expenditure, or which will generate the best return on investment.”

“That way, you can decide which activities should be prioritised. But generally, we would always advise customers to reduce consumption before they install solar PV, for example,” Josh says.

Reduce your energy bills, while being more sustainable

When it comes to sustainable energy solutions, there are three main solutions we can help with:

LED lighting - switching your lights to more energy-efficient LEDs.

Solar PV - Installing a rooftop solar system to generate power.

Power Factor Correction - Improving the power quality to reduce the load on the electrical distribution system and increase energy efficiency.

AGL’s Energy Solutions team can help by assessing your current consumption and suggesting the solutions that best fit your business. By implementing all or just one of these solutions, you should see an impact on your energy consumption and bill.

“Depending on your business, lighting could represent a significant portion of your overall electricity consumption. If that’s the case, replacing a dated lighting system with LEDs can potentially cut your energy bill by up to 80%,” Bower says.

“And with solar PV we can look at your available roof space and energy consumption data to design a solar system that is appropriately sized to offset your current power load.”

rooftop solar panels on Vinnies Victoria building

The Energy Solutions team will be able to tell you as part of its proposal an estimate of what anticipated savings you should expect. This can easily be benchmarked by comparing electricity bills to see the cost and number of kilowatt-hours you’re consuming from the grid.

Savings that outweigh the cost

One of the perceived barriers to implementing sustainable energy initiatives is expensive up-front costs. But Josh says there are finance products available that can reduce the initial upfront payment.

“In many Australian states there are also fairly attractive subsidies and incentives that can reduce your capital expenditure on installing LED lighting and solar PV,” Bower says.

“By offering three solutions in one place, and the ability to pay it off as part of your monthly bill, we hope it makes it easier for small businesses to reduce their energy consumption,” Bower says.

“Increasingly, these initiatives are saving businesses money and are genuinely generating a meaningful and positive return on investment that aligns with sustainability goals,” Bower says.

And that’s good for the planet and Aussie small businesses.

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