3. Implement energy savings

For energy efficiency opportunities and information resources in your sector, see our Industry sector guides.

For opportunities by equipment type, see our Equipment and technology guides.


There are many opportunities to reduce energy use in your business. Selecting the right appliances and equipment and using them more efficiently will save you money.

Once you’ve gained an understanding of your energy use, you should look to implement the most-cost effective upgrades and operational changes.

Heating and cooling

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can account for as much as 50% of energy use in an office space or building. Here are some ideas to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling.

Improve window efficiency and wall insulation

Prevent heat loss or gain with natural ventilation, window shading and properly fitted window coverings.

Double glazing is an effective means to reduce your energy use but may be an unnecessary expense when energy-efficient reverse-cycle air conditioning is installed. Assess carefully for savings against initial cost.

Seal doors and windows

Sealing gaps and cracks to stop airflow is a cheap way to cut your energy bill.

Use a draught stopper to prevent airflow under doors and apply weather seals to windows, skirting boards, skylights and cornices.

Automate temperatures and optimise existing HVAC systems

Minor adjustments to thermostat set points can achieve significant energy savings,

HVAC optimisation may involve:

  • improved control systems
  • modifications to ventilation and distribution
  • relocation of HVAC units
  • simple good maintenance.

Upgrade to more efficient HVAC systems

Upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system can significantly reduce your annual heating and cooling costs.

Rooftop packaged air conditioners incorporate advanced features that improve efficiency, control and reliability. Thermal energy storage technologies store heat or cold for use during later applications.

See the HVAC guide for more information.


Lighting can use up to 40% of energy in commercial premises, depending on the nature of the business and type of lighting used. Low cost changes can achieve big results.

Maximise natural lighting

Take advantage of outside light with open windows and blinds rather than switching on a light.

Other measures to maximise natural lighting include:

  • light-coloured furnishings
  • reflective surfaces
  • skylights
  • shading device control
  • glare reduction
  • electrochromic glazing.

Use lights efficiently

Many lighting efficiency opportunities can be easily implemented with little or no capital investment or need to redesign a lighting system.

Turn lights off manually or automatically when not needed and remove excess lamps from over-lit areas.

Switch to energy-efficient lighting

Options for upgrading energy-efficient lighting include:

  • replacing light fittings and lamps
  • optimising lighting layout
  • adding more circuits and switches for greater control.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) use up to 75% less energy than halogens. LEDs also emit less heat and last up to 10 times longer than halogens, which greatly reduces the need for changing or maintenance.

See the Lighting guide for more information.

Office appliances and equipment

Small changes in the way you use common appliances can result in significant savings over time. Consider making some of these improvements in your business.

Move from desktop to laptop

Standard laptops consume up to 90% less energy than desktop computers. Make the switch to this energy-saving technology while providing more work flexibility.

If you need a larger screen, connect your laptop to an Energy-Star certified monitor. 

Keep fridges working efficiently

Keep the freezer full but give the fridge some breathing space. Keeping the fridge about 70% full allows air to circulate and reduces air leaks when the door opens.

Fix the seal if you are noticing condensation outside of the fridge. Doors not properly sealed are the most common energy drain for fridges. 

Use timers on equipment

A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day can cost over $200 a year. Set computers and other equipment to automatically turn off at the end of the day and use ‘energy-saving’ modes for photocopiers and printers.

Timers on equipment such as boiling-water taps can ensure they’re off overnight and ready to use in the morning.

All these processes can be automated with a building management system.

Switch to smart power strips

‘Phantom loads’, or the electricity used by electronics when they are turned off or in standby mode, are a major source of energy waste.

Smart power strips eliminate the problem of phantom loads by shutting off the power to electronics when they are not in use. They can also be set to turn off at an assigned time through remote switches or based on the status of a ‘master’ device.

Remember to shut down and switch off

Overnight and holiday shutdown means just that -- shutting down electrical appliances and lights.

Develop a system to ensure this happens. It can be as simple as having the last person to leave turn off the lights and other equipment.

Service equipment regularly

Regularly cleaned and serviced equipment operates more efficiently. For example, refrigerated display cabinets that are not regularly cleaned can use up to 10% more energy.

Power outside of peak demand

If your business needs to run on heavy equipment or your operations can run at different times, consider changing up work hours for machine operation to make the most of lower rate off-peak hours.

Energy ratings and labelling requirements

Energy ratings are an important tool for comparing the energy efficiency of appliances. The Australian Government sets minimum energy performance standards and labelling requirements for common appliances in Australia, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

The Energy Rating Label includes a star rating to compare different models of common appliance types. Choose the right product for you and then compare star ratings. The more stars a product has, the greater its efficiency rating.

Compare product running costs and estimate the real cost of a product over its lifetime using the Energy Rating Calculator or the Energy Rating Registration Database.

Generate your own energy

Many businesses are implementing ‘behind the meter’ energy solutions to produce their own energy on-site to meet some of their needs. Government incentives are available for investments in energy-efficiency upgrades and for onsite renewable energy installations.

Solar PV

A popular option to generate your own energy is a solar PV system. The best solar system size for your business depends on how much electricity you use, when you use it, your budget, and the amount of sunny roof area available for the solar panels.

The Australian Government’s new Solar Consumer Guide provides free and expert guidance on rooftop solar and batteries for your business.

This step-by-step guide provides information to help you choose, use and maintain a rooftop solar system that suits your needs and maximises your savings. You can also find out more about assistance available to reduce costs. 

The guide was developed with support from government and industry experts, including the Australian PV Institute and the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of New South Wales.

Check out the Solar Consumer Guide.

Battery storage

A battery can store energy for use when your solar panels are not generating enough electricity (such as at night or when it is cloudy), or at times when electricity costs more.

To find out more about the costs and benefits of battery storage, go to the Solar Consumer Guide.

Other technology options

Generating energy onsite can also involve other technologies, including solar thermal (concentrated solar power), co-generation (combined heat and power), waste to energy and biomass (organic matter used as fuel).

The best combination of these technologies will depend on your site and energy profile, including when you use energy and what combinations of heat, gas and electricity are required.

See the Renewables guide for more information on energy generation options.


Switching to a fuel-efficient or an alternate-fuel vehicle or truck can save thousands of dollars in running costs and reduce greenhouse and air pollution emissions.

Fuel-efficient cars also have a higher threshold for the luxury car tax and some insurers may offer discounts. Although fuel-efficient vehicles may cost more upfront, choosing a cheaper and less efficient model could end up costing more in the long term.

You can compare the fuel economy, greenhouse and emissions of different cars (including 4WDs and light commercial vehicles) by using the GreenVehicleGuide.

The Truck Buyers Guide has useful information on choosing a cost-efficient commercial vehicle or truck. Sometimes the cheaper option truck can result in the highest long-term cost due to fuel and ongoing maintenance.

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) use a lithium-ion battery-powered electric motor and produce zero tailpipe CO2 emissions. EVs recharge from home-based power outlets and external charging stations. Maintenance needs are low, given that EVs have fewer parts and less mechanical complexity than combustion-engine vehicles.

Hybrid vehicles use a combination of petrol engine, electric motor and battery to power the vehicle. A hybrid can use 40 to 60% less fuel and emits around 30% less CO2 than a conventional vehicle.

EVs and plug-in hybrids are required to display a Fuel Consumption Label. This label shows the vehicle’s energy consumption in watt hours/km, the expected range when fully charged, and fuel consumption in L/100km and CO2 emissions in g/km.

Finance your opportunities

There are various government rebates and assistance available to help with financing your energy savings opportunities.

The NSW Government provides discounts and incentives for small businesses to reduce energy use, including lighting upgrade offers and commercial refrigeration rebates.

The Victorian Energy Upgrades program provides Victorian small businesses with access to rebates and discounts on energy and water-efficient products and services through accredited service providers.

See the Grants and funding page for more information on how to access funding for your energy savings opportunities.

See also the Business support and advice page for information on programs to support businesses to better understand their energy use and implement energy efficient practices, systems and technologies.

Read more

Demand management

Equipment and technology guides

Industry sector guides

Solar Consumer Guide

Appliance information for consumers

Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) 

Business Portal (ATO) 

Energy Rating 

Energy Rating Calculator 

Energy Rating Registration System


Grants and programs finder 

Instant Asset Write-Off