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How electricians can contribute to saving our planet

09 Jan 2018

While the debate about energy policy consumes our politicians, the business community is looking for ways to save on their power bills and it’s small electrical contractors who will be best placed to help out, with a little training.

The most accessible power saving option for business is to invest in energy efficiency — which is, put simply, using less energy without making sacrifices on comfort, service, or productivity. At Adelaide Oval, for instance, the Stadium Management Authority is expecting a 15-30% reduction in electricity use thanks to LED light technology replacing power-hungry incandescent bulbs. While in Queensland, Reef HQ Aquarium has halved its energy use, from 2.4GWh per year after investing $1.7 million over eight years. The aquarium not only recouped all the money this year, but this forward-thinking change has helped them reduce their environmental footprint. The rest of business community, particularly SMEs want to know how they can do the same and it’s electricians who are in the best positioned to help.

How electricians can win

In a first for Victoria, Melbourne Polytechnic is upskilling qualified electricians in energy management and control. A recent survey by the Polytechnic, Energy Skills Australia and other partners found 93.33 percent of employers, with an average 6.6 employees, were interested in upskilling their workforce to fill the energy efficiency knowledge gap. Melbourne Polytechnic identified five key areas where the gaps needed plugging: • Energy efficiency assessment • Wireless technology and control • Interfacing PLC’s and SCADA devices • Advanced AutoCAD design and • Energy Management Systems With these skills at their fingertips, small (and big) contractors can create business opportunities on-the-job. According to the survey, the average commercial electrical company and their staff will enter an average of 13 SMEs each week to perform scheduled preventative maintenance or emergency response. An electrician with a Certificate IV in Energy Management and Control will be able to use these interactions to promote strategies for energy efficiency in buildings and recommend changes. It’s a win for the business and a win for the contractor, and there’s some help coming from the Victorian government in this space too.

Victoria is on the move

While there’s a big effort to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria, the survey actually found few small electrical contractors knew about the energy assessment grant provided through Sustainability Victoria. This is key information they could pass on to their clients. The assessment grant is open to small and medium-sized businesses spending over $20,000 a year on energy and will identify any improvements a business can make towards energy efficiency. There’s also some discussion around the Victorian government being the first to raise minimum residential energy efficiency requirements, which could mean training in energy efficiency is important for those working on residential properties too. The move towards energy efficiency is as much about saving and earning money as it is about reducing our impact on the planet and electricians can be at the heart of it, with a little training. Image: Anna Jiminez Calef