Is switching to solar going to generate the savings you expect?

Want to save money on your power bills straight away? If so, solar may not be the number one solution.

Solar power solutions are great as they can save money and reduce environmental damage. So why are so many facilities not reaping the rewards after installing solar power panels?

The answer lies in the approach.

Installing solar power is just one part of the power saving, environmental guru puzzle. Reducing energy costs in a warehouse or commercial facility is a multi-faceted task and looking at the solutions in isolation can actually cost more, both financially and environmentally.

What you actually need is an energy audit.

What does an energy audit involve?

At Trackie Industries, we specialise in monitoring electricity. On most sites, we conduct an audit of the total power, lighting and air conditioning as well as assess the air quality and compliance with AS1668. Ultimately, we search for the power usage or ‘waste power’ and seek areas for improvement.

6 steps to assess whether solar is the best solution for your facility

A typical energy audit with us includes the following 6 steps:

  1. Identifying areas of power usage and power wastage through wireless cloud-based monitoring.
  2. Assessing the viability of solar power and LED lighting.
  3. Assessing the efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), which is a huge consumer of energy!
  4. Outlining improvements that should be made to your facility.
  5. Providing a schedule for making the improvements so that one upgrade does not upset another.
  6. Providing an outline of costs associated with all upgrades.

Examples of successful energy audits

There are numerous puzzle pieces required to make an organisation energy efficient. Looking at one in isolation is not good business sense.

We’ve had clients approach us about getting solar, but in many instances, after conducting an energy audit, we have discovered that it is the wrong solution based on their desired outcome.

For example, a club or restaurant may have high refrigeration costs which require further investigation. We may then discover that the best energy saving solution revolves around refrigeration repairs, improvements, or upgrades, fixing door seals, improving insulation, and changing staff behaviours.

Other areas where energy efficiency solutions would be identified through an audit include roof surface coatings, insulations, glass reflective films, draft mitigation, door air locks, ventilation systems, or operational or behavioural changes.

Let’s review a couple of specific case studies –

Case Study 1 – The Club that thought solar was the answer

A client in the hospitality industry recently asked us to install solar power on the roof of their facility. The building had a great roof for solar and it seemed like it may be a viable option.

However, since their goal was to save power, we had a look at the entire facility to assess whether solar power solutions would actually be worthwhile.

During the process, we discovered that the building had major air conditioning problems that proved to be draining huge amounts of energy. If they made an investment to fix these air conditioning problems, their savings would be far greater than what solar power would provide. On top of that, if we had simply installed solar panels on their roof as requested, we would have had to remove them at a later date to fix the costly air conditioning issues.

Case Study 2  – The Backpackers’ Hostel

We had a Backpackers’ Hostel client approach us who had been collecting quotes for solar power – and some of these quotes were fairly reasonably priced.

In a typical scenario, many solar companies will assess your requirements based on the amount of energy usage in a day.

However, for the Backpackers’ Hostel, we found that most of their power was used in the late afternoon and early evening. So in this situation, installing solar was going to be a costly investment that didn’t necessarily reflect their needs – unless it included batteries to store the solar power for night time use. So installing solar panels wasn’t going to give her a big reduction in her bills straightaway – which was her ultimate goal.

It’s a very different situation compared to an office space that mostly operates during the day. So we recommend assessing your operational needs and requirements during the solar decision-making process.

If you want to reduce your energy bill quickly, solar might not be the answer

In some instances, installing solar panels can seem like the right choice – but not always.

To be sure that solar power is the right fit for your facility, contact Trackie Industries for an obligation free health check. Because the less you burn, the more you earn!

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