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Managing demand

Peak demand is when electricity usage on the network is at its highest - this is usually in the evening around 4pm to 9pm. It can put a strain on the electricity network and lead to power outages if not managed correctly. Queensland's rapidly growing population also adds to peak demand.

This means we may need to spend money building-up the network to stop power outages at peak demand times. This cost can contribute to electricity price rises. So, to keep our electricity costs as low as possible, we all need to be smarter about how and when we use power.  Electricity tariffs for business customers often include charges based on the electricity demand that site places on the network - these are mandatory for most customers using over 100 MWh/year.  Understanding how demand is calculated and how demand charges work, will help you manage your energy costs.

Managing demand under demand based tariff

The main benefit for a business on a demand tariff to reduce their electricity demand is help to lower their energy bill. There are a number of ways businesses can reduce peak demand and these will vary depending on the nature of your work, the hours of operation, appliances and equipment used.

If your business is on a demand tariff, your electricity bill will show the maximum demand in the billing period charged. Knowing your maximum demand is important – as is knowing when that peak occurs is as it helps to identify which appliances or processes are contributing to that peak demand.  You should also make sure you understand the structure of your tariff – some demand charge best on the single highest electricity demand over 30 minute period, this is known as ‘anytime demand’ tariff. Some tariffs charge for electricity demand used based on peak and off-peak times. Once you are familiar with how your tariff works, you can better understand how to manage your electricity demand and therefore your electricity costs. To understand more about demand tariffs, see here.

Monitoring demand at work

Your electricity retailer may be able to provide you with a load profile that shows when demand occurs. A load profile shows how your demand varies throughout a given period, usually measured in half hour intervals. There might be a fee for this. You or an authorised third party can request up to two years of metering data for your premises - the data available will depend on the type of meter you have.

If you are considering moving to a demand tariff, but you aren’t able to obtain a load profile from your electricity retailer, you could install your own monitoring equipment that will provide you with your load profile. Then you can assess which demand tariff is best for you and any appropriate strategies to manage or reduce peak demand.

Some electricity retailers and hardware providers may offer an on-line portal or App so you can monitor your demand throughout the day. You can even have alerts sent via text or email when demand reaches pre-set levels, so you can intervene to manage the demand or have automated building energy management systems do that for you.

Tips for reducing peak demand

Here are some general tips to help you reduce peak demand in your business:

  • Set your air conditioner to an energy-efficient 25 degrees
  • Raise the evaporator temperature of your refrigeration to its maximum possible level for best efficiency
  • Switch any suitable appliances, like hot water systems, pool pumps to an economy tariff (consumption on an economy tariff does not count toward demand charges - check with your retailer if they offer these tariffs for business customers)
  • Install timers on the any equipment that doesn't need to operate during your peak period
  • Replace your fixed speed compressed air system, pool pump and other pumps with energy efficient variable speed models
  • Schedule the use of appliances and equipment so they're spread throughout the day, or if you need to use during the peak charging period, try to stagger usage during that period
  • Shift loads from peak to off-peak times
  • Use alternative fuels (i.e. use solar water heating instead of electric)
  • Generate energy on-site (i.e. through a solar power system)
  • Use a building management system to control loads
  • Install Power Factor Correction equipment to improve your power factor (applies to sites that are being charged for demand in kVa).

Getting advice from an energy efficiency consultant could be your first step to saving money on your business electricity bills.

See our business resources and case studies showing how other businesses have cut their power bills through reducing both demand and total energy consumption.

Make sure you check out the rewards program. You may be eligible for cashback rewards by reducing your peak demand.