Reduce motor running costs in your business

Last updated: 6 September 2022

Motors are often used to drive pumps, fans, compressors and other equipment.

It’s estimated that electric motors account for nearly 30% of total electricity consumption in Australia across all industries.

But there are a range of ways to reduce motor electricity costs in your business, that can:

  • lower your electricity bill
  • minimise maintenance costs
  • save the environment
  • improve working conditions.

The figures on this page come from our Boosting Business Productivity program. We worked with more than 300 businesses to explore their energy use and minimise their energy cost.

Assess your current energy use

Every business is different. The best way to get a clear idea of how to reduce energy consumption and costs in your business is by getting an energy audit. An energy auditor can review your energy bills and the way your business operates, to identify where you’re using energy inefficiently and what you can do about it.

Find an energy auditor near you.

Install a power meter on your motor equipment to measure and analyse electrical load. You may find you’re using more energy than you need to get the job done.

Read how other businesses reduced their energy costs.

Ways to reduce motor costs

1. Install a power meter and reconfigure system

Use a power meter to correctly determine the size of the motor load required for the task. A licensed electrician can do this for you.

Check the load against the rating on the motor nameplate. If these don’t closely match, consider replacing it with a motor that’s better suited.


On average, reconfiguring your system will:

  • cost less than $10,000 to implement
  • save $10,000 annually
  • take 1 year to pay back
  • save more than 40 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

2. Install timers and operational controls

Timers and operational control can automatically turn the motor on and off for you. This way you don’t need to rely on staff and motors won’t be left on when not required.


On average, installing timers and operational controls will:

  • cost $7100 to implement
  • save more than $5000 annually
  • take 1.5 years to pay back
  • save more than 13 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

3. Install variable speed drives

Install variable speed drives on motor systems where the speed or load changes.

Variable speed drives adjust the speed of the motor to match the load required for the task. This will reduce the energy used when the full capacity of the motor isn’t needed.

Reducing the motor speed by 20% can lower your motor operating cost by up to 50%.


On average, installing variable speed drive will:

  • cost $18,600 to implement
  • save more than $10,000 annually
  • take less than 2 years to pay back
  • save nearly 45 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions annually.

4. Upgrade to a more energy efficient motor

If your motor is old, it might be worth upgrading to a high efficiency motor.

High efficiency motors reduce energy consumption by 3–4%. If you also choose the correct size motor for the task, you’ll significantly lower your operating cost.


On average, upgrading to a more energy efficient motor will:

  • cost less than $15,000 to implement
  • save more than $10,000 annually
  • take 1.5 years to pay back
  • save more than 39 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

5. Regular maintenance

Schedule regular maintenance on motors to improve the efficiency of driving equipment.

This can reduce your energy use by up to 10%.

Schedule regular:

  • lubrication
  • cleaning
  • checking belt tensioning and alignment.

What else can you do?

Get recommendations for an energy upgrade project

Our energy upgrade tool does the hard work for you. It recommends opportunities and funding options, and calculates return on investment for your business.

Use the energy upgrades tool.

Upgrade your motors at a discount

You may be eligible for discounted energy-efficiency products and services, including motors, through the Victorian Energy Upgrade program.

To get started, contact an accredited provider.

Then, you can pay for the remaining cost with energy-specific finance.

Subscribe to our newsletter

We’ll send you the latest sustainability information, tailored for business, including:

  • grants and funding
  • professional opportunities and events
  • energy efficiency and waste avoidance tips to save you money.