Last updated: 21 November 2011
Energy efficiency saves money, protects the environment, enhances industry productivity and competitiveness, and contributes to energy reliability and security.
By investing in energy efficiency practices and products, the government, industry, business and households will benefit financially, socially and environmentally.
Energy efficiency is essentially about achieving 'more with less' by using energy wisely and avoiding energy waste to achieve the same or greater results for consumers.
Why be energy efficient?
Increased energy efficiency in homes, businesses and industry can provide financial benefits through reduced electricity bills and lowering greenhouse gas emissions into the environment.
Improvements in energy efficiency also contribute to the competitiveness of industry and assist in better managing energy demand.
For more about energy efficiency, visit the following websites:
- NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water
- Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
- Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage & the Arts
Visit our saving energy page for tips on saving energy in your home or office.
Choosing energy-efficient products
All domestic refrigerators and freezers, single phase air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes washers and clothes dryers must be labelled according to their energy use efficiency.
A wide range of products must also meet mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards.
You can search for energy-efficient products and compare running costs at www.energyrating.gov.au.
Suppliers of products covered by mandatory energy labelling can find contact details for regulators at www.energyrating.gov.au/reg.html#contacts.
Industry & Investment NSW provides registration services for products subject to energy labelling and/or Minimum Energy Performance Standards requirements. The NSW fee for model registration increased from AU$150 to AU$205 on 5 March 2010.
What is energy efficiency?
Energy efficiency is getting the most from the energy we use to meet our needs. Whether heating, cooling or lighting our offices or manufacturing and transporting goods and materials, energy use can be optimised through improving our energy efficiency.
By reducing our energy consumption we reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, thereby improving our environment.
Benefits of energy efficiency
Reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and saving money are not the only benefits of business energy efficiency. Rewards also include improved corporate citizenship, better community and customer relations, increased staff productivity and product output, reduced maintenance costs and improved occupational health and safety.
With businesses in NSW using around 50,000 GWh a year of electricity, the potential for savings through energy efficiency is great.
Evidence shows that most businesses can reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent through equipment maintenance and upgrades, smarter building systems and materials, and energy-efficient technology. This is usually achieved using tried and tested technologies that are widely available from a range of suppliers.
Investment in energy efficiency can often pay for itself in just a few months through energy bill savings. Even a three year investment recovery from an equipment upgrade with a ten year working life means that the initial investment has made a 30 per cent return and has seven years of working life in which it makes continuous savings.
A number of programs and resources exist in Australia to help businesses reduce their energy use and greenhouse impact, including:
- GreenPower. GreenPower is a national accreditation program that sets stringent environmental and reporting standards for renewable energy products offered by electricity suppliers to households and businesses across Australia.
- Water and Energy Savings Action Plans and the NSW Climate Change Fund. The Water and Energy Savings Funds, and the mandatory requirement for high users to prepare Water and Energy Savings Action Plans, were introduced by the NSW Government in May 2005. The NSW Climate Change Fund includes the NSW Green Business Program, which is providing $30 million over five years for projects that will save water and energy in business operations in NSW.
It is expected that a mandatory requirement for implementation of cost-effective energy saving measures identified by users in their Energy Savings Action Plans will come into force in 2009.
- National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS). NABERS OFFICE is a voluntary performance-based rating system for existing commercial office buildings. NABERS OFFICE allows commercial office buildings throughout Australia to be benchmarked for their operational impacts on the environment as a way of improving performance and saving energy and water, and money in the long run.
- Save Power. The NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water is supporting the community (households, businesses, public facilities and government agencies) to reduce our power use by being more energy efficient.
NSW Climate Change Fund and the Water and Energy Savings Action Plans
The NSW Government established the $700 million Climate Change Fund to provide financial support for business, government agencies and local councils to implement projects which will save water or energy, and to stimulate investment in clean energy technologies.
The Climate Change Fund now incorporates the Water and Energy Savings Funds, and includes the $15 million Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program and the $20 million Sustainability Advantage Energy Saver Program under the Energy Efficiency Strategy.
The NSW Government's water and energy savings initiatives encourage business, government and households to use water and energy more efficiently. Initiatives include a requirement for certain high water and energy users to prepare Water and Energy Savings Actions Plans. All 298 Water and 267 Energy Savings Action Plans were approved by 30 June 2009. These plans assessed water and/or energy use in businesses, government agency sites and councils and identified ways to save.
Programs and funding under the Climate Change Fund are outlined in reports tabled annually and available on the OEH website.