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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Bright Sparks’s power saving shocks manager

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Bright future: Joseph Sparks outside his workplace, Caltex Ballina.
Bright future: Joseph Sparks outside his workplace, Caltex Ballina.

Matthew Cusack

Joseph Sparks, who works at Caltex Ballina, recently showed his employer how to save thousands of dollars on energy bills that were crippling the business.

While completing his diploma in sustainability at North Coast Institute of TAFE, Joe performed an energy audit on his workplace – and showed how the business could save $4,000 a year on operating costs by some simple changes in energy usage.

His boss was so surprised with the results that he organised for Joe to address a group of local Caltex franchisees about it.

Joe decided to do the audit after his employers reduced their trading hours because of a rise in energy prices.

‘When a small business decreases its operating hours or lays off staff to save money, they risk the possibility of losing customers,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘An energy audit can help a business save money without that risk, providing the savings outweigh the cost of the audit.’

Joe approached his manager in April last year and conducted his energy audit between June and September.

First he analysed the business by noting areas of electricity consumption and looking at previous energy consumption to understand normal usage.

Then he talked to staff about their habits in using different machinery.

‘I concentrated on machines that had the highest power consumption,’ remarked Joe

‘One thing I discovered was that three out of the four staff were leaving the air-conditioning on at night.’

Joe also looked at the refrigerators and freezers, which he said operate at maximum efficiency when they are filled with stock to 75 and 66 per cent of available space respectively.

‘Even if you don’t own the fridge, you can request the company supplying it to get you a newer, or more energy-efficient model,’ he said.

Rod Ware, Joe’s sustainability teacher said, ‘In recent times, there has been strong growth in compliance, and in job descriptions that specifically address sustainability issues’.

‘Employers are recognising the business benefits of operating in ways that deliver sustainable outcomes for people and the environment.’

Joe said the TAFE course was very flexible.

‘Because it only happens one day a month, I only had to take one day off of work,’ he said.

‘They also made use of new technology such as video conferencing.’

Joe also used his knowledge to save money on electricity at home.

He describes the $4,000 in potential savings for the business as approximately 17 per cent of its yearly electricity costs.

Joe said his manager was unaware of many of the costs shown in his audit, which is why he has been asked to meet the national franchise managers.

Joseph hopes that ‘instead of just having a behaviour change, or an energy-efficiency policy at one site, it could become nationwide.’

Readers interested in considering the Sustainability course can contact the North Coast TAFE Customer Service Centre on 131 628 233.

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  1. Woo go joe!
    So excited to see you had such great results!
    It’s awesome to see your hard work being recognized and so successful 🙂

  2. Did the company give him a bonus or pay for his Tech course ? All too often employees who add significantly to the productivity of a company by innovation, find themselves penalised for being a threat to “the Boss”. In this case, young Joe Sparks has at least been given recognition and kudos.But you can’t eat fame.

  3. Australia needs more young people like Joe to be proactive regarding waste, and unnecessary use of electricity is waste. Good on you Joe.

  4. Hi everyone

    I would like to say thank you to everyone for your kind support and helping share this story around. The expose I have gained from this article and others like it will be extremely important for helping me gain employment in the sustainability field.

    Once again thank you all so much. Cheers.

    ~Joseph Sparks


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