PSEE interventions at medium-size businesses growing by the day
09 February 2015
According to the results of a trend analysis of medium site surveys, the Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) programme is making good progress in assisting medium-size companies with energy efficiency surveys. In view of current engagement trends, the PSEE is expected to reach 500 medium-size companies by the end of May.
In terms of learnings thus far, it is clear that many medium-size businesses do not have the management capacity to even be thinking about energy efficiency. Consequently, raising awareness about energy efficiency and its potential to generate savings is the first step towards securing the interest of management. Not surprisingly, whenever load shedding tops the national news agenda, the PSEE’s awareness-raising efforts prove especially effective.
The next step is to convince businesses of the importance of monitoring their energy usage through the simple act of taking daily meter readings. Monitoring energy usage can often identify various opportunities for enhanced energy efficiency and cost savings, for example:
- it allows businesses to verify the accuracy of their municipal accounts and rectify costly errors;
- regular readings allow a business to establish a baseline of energy usage – spikes in usage can be easily picked up and investigated; and
- a reduction in energy usage could point to the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures, motivating continued behaviour change.
Basic energy usage data is also ideal to determine so-called ‘low-hanging fruit’ – i.e. opportunities for no-cost or low-cost measures that can improve energy efficiency to such an extent that it could lead to a 20% saving in energy costs.
No-cost behaviour-change measures could include such simple measures as switching off lights and office machines when not in use. Low-cost energy-efficient measures include replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives, as well as seeing to maintenance issues that could be responsible for wasteful energy usage. For example, many businesses fail to service their air conditioning units on a regular basis, which could generate substantial energy savings once rectified. Diligently repairing leaks in compressed air units can also amount to sizeable savings.
Only once these no-cost and low-cost measures have been fully exploited, a business might want to investigate other opportunities for greater energy-efficiency. Such measures could include replacing old machinery or equipment with more energy-efficient models or considering renewable sources of energy, such as solar power.
The PSEE assists medium-size businesses to identify such opportunities by offering them fully-funded energy audits. Potential savings often run into thousands of rands, for example:
- an energy audit at one medium-size company identified savings of at least R86 000 per annum without any capital investment whatsoever; and
- at another medium-size company, an energy audit found that a once-off capital investment of R1.3 million would translate into ongoing annual savings of at least R720 000.
A cursory glance at the database of recommendations for medium-size companies, reveals that the following energy efficiency measures are most frequently proposed:
- developing and implementing an energy management policy and strategy;
- implementing staff energy awareness training;
- use of energy efficient lighting and controls;
- improved metering on fuel/electrical consumption;
- reviewing compressed air system operating strategies;
- identifying and repairing air leaks in all areas;
- replacing existing geysers with heat pumps;
- reviewing and optimising fridge system operation; and
- insulation improvement and maintenance of filters.
Approved consultants working under a framework contract with the PSEE undertake the PSEE’s energy surveys; PSEE account managers coordinate the consultants and surveys. At the conclusion of a survey, the relevant business receives an audit report and follow-up call from the account manager, as well as an additional call three to six months later to track progress and discuss potential next steps.
In addition, businesses that have received survey-based or similar support but require assistance in taking identified opportunities to the point of implementation, may receive tailored follow-on support to
- prioritise projects for implementation;
- build a business case for implementation; and
- understand the finance and technology options available.
As dictated by donor fund allocations, the PSEE can only assist a limited number of medium-size businesses in this way. Should your business wish to benefit from the PSEE’s expertise, do not delay in calling us on 080 111 3943 or visit www.psee.org.za