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.