Like all homes, aged care homes face rising energy bills. As National Sustainability Manager at Regis Aged Care, Dr Kaushik Sridhar is on a mission to reduce the company’s environmental footprint.
“We were involved in a council-run energy efficiency program last year. The savings we saw in energy and operational costs sparked an interest across the company in taking this further, so we applied for an energy efficiency grant,” explained Kaushik.
“We used the grant to pay for a detailed energy audit at four of our Victorian homes – Brighton, Cranbourne, Frankston and Sandringham.”
Based on the audit report, the company made several energy upgrades.
“Some of these changes were so simple,” explained Kaushik. “For example, we halved the energy used by bain-marie heaters in the kitchens, by installing timers to turn them on when needed, instead of them running all day.”
They also installed a car park exhaust system at the Sandringham site. The previous system consisted of a fan that was permanently on at the same speed to remove any fumes from the car park. The new system runs on a carbon monoxide sensor and variable speed drive that ensures the fans run only when needed.
Regis has reduced energy consumption by about 20% per year, saving almost 375,000kWh.
Low hanging fruit
Regis was pleasantly surprised to see how quick and easy it was to implement some of the recommendations.
“We went for the low hanging fruit first; the recommendations with the best return on investment. It’s amazing how even these relatively small changes can have a big financial and environmental impact.”
Any efforts to reduce energy use also needed to maintain or improve comfort levels for elderly residents. Upgrading to LED lighting was a cost-efficient way to give residents better lighting, while also reducing energy usage and the ongoing maintenance cost of replacing bulbs.
“Our staff and residents are interested in sustainability. They’re particularly passionate about sending less waste to landfill,” said Kaushik. “So, they’ve enjoyed seeing all these changes.”
The snowball effect of energy savings
According to Kaushik, an energy audit is a shortcut to identifying the most practical and cost-effective ways to reduce your energy consumption and costs.
Seeing these savings can give you the traction, the interest and the collaboration you need to take your sustainability journey further. It’s like a snowball effect.
– Dr Kaushik Sridhar, National Sustainability Manager, Regis Aged Care
“We are already planning more energy upgrades across most of our Victorian homes. These upgrades give us better energy performance, but they also help future-proof our homes against rising energy costs and regulations, and mitigate the health impacts of a changing climate.
“It’s good for residents, it’s good for the planet, and it’s good for business,” he added.
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