In March 2020, businesses began to shift operations in response to COVID-19, with measures taken across Australian businesses to enforce social distancing and reduce on site occupancy. This change to work has also changed the way businesses use power, reducing demand across the National Electricity Market. Previously, we shared our advice about how to adapt your operations to reduce energy costs when demand and energy use decreases. 

Now, as state governments begin to announce their plans to lift restrictions, you might be thinking about getting back to business as usual.  Before you do, it’s important to know what to be aware of when returning to full operational capacity. 

Powering back up after lock down isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Businesses powering their operations back up to full capacity can put a strain on the energy system and open themselves up to network charges.

We’ve put together some quick and easy tips to help businesses power their operations back up to normal.

Outline your operations

Take cues from the government’s approach to easing restrictions and identify a similar roadmap for your processes and equipment. Start with business critical operations and work your way towards full operations.

If you do have flexibility to move operations across different times of the day, take the time to look at how this can create savings without a significant impact on operations. This is a great opportunity to revisit your processes and consider how your business can operate more efficiently moving forward. 

Businesses that partially shutdown with temporary changes to operating hours should consider a stepped plan that coordinates operational processes with processes that  are being turned back on.

Timing your return

Some equipment takes longer to start up, so start early, even up to 24 hours prior to resuming operations or opening your doors.

Be aware of when you’re powering up too. Powering up during times of high demand can cost more and put a strain on the grid. 

Space out the load. Turning on different equipment at different times will avoid network tariff charges and higher energy costs. Automating this process after a partial shutdown can help manage start times to avoid high prices.

Turn the lights on

Your first instinct might be to turn on all of your lights, but lights can be a major energy drain. When powering back up, only light the areas you need and where possible, switch to energy-efficient lighting like LEDs and CLFs.

Turn on illuminated signs when business is back to operations, prioritise signs required for safety and legal purposes first to comply with any regulations your operations may have. 

Be mindful of areas that may be hazardous to ensure they are well lit too, including checking sensor controlled lights.

Temperature control

Start in small increments when putting heating and air conditioning back on. This allows equipment to build up to a set temperature point.

When possible, turning the air conditioning or heating off for the last hour of each workday can help avoid unnecessary costs. 

While in use, close doors to contain air conditioning and heating, and use the recycle function while there are lower occupancy numbers than usual.

Refrigeration

Restocking fridges to full capacity will help them to chill faster and use less power to maintain temperatures. Just make sure there’s enough room for cold air to circulate.

For fridges that have been hibernated, position these in well-ventilated areas away from sunlight or heat from other equipment.

Take this as an opportunity to check the seals on fridge doors and closing mechanisms, like hinges, are all in good condition.

We’re here to help

Powering your business back up in stages will help your business avoid spending more than it needs to on power and will also help support the energy system as more businesses return.

For any questions you may have on powering up, or simpy for some advice, you can always reach us on go@flowpower.com.au or on 1300 08 06 08.

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