Douglas Shire leading in energy-saving challenge

Wednesday February 11 2015, 12:00pm

How many Port Douglas businesses does it take to screw in an LED light bulb?

Actually, the question is how many Port Douglas businesses have been adopting LED lighting – and other energy-saving measures – since the Kill-a-Watt campaign began showing them how to slash their electricity bills.

The final answer may qualify the Douglas Shire Council to win the Local Government Challenge, an initiative of the Kill-a-Watt campaign, which was launched last year by Regional Development Australia – exclusively in Far North Queensland – with funding from the Federal Department of Industry and Science.

Right now, Douglas Shire is the front runner in the challenge, with $43,620 in average savings potential per business, outstripping current second place Mareeba Shire, which is on $31,753 per business.

The Challenge aims to ascertain which local government region in the Far North has identified the highest potential savings in electricity use, based on Kill-a-Watt energy assessments undertaken by their local businesses and community organisations.

Kill-a-Watt energy assessors have already conducted 215 onsite energy evaluations across the Far North, in relentless pursuit of surplus watts – and there are lots.

To date, they have identified a total of $1.65 million in potential energy savings – representing an estimated average reduction of 36 percent in electricity use for participating businesses and community organisation.

“But which particular region has the most canny energy consumers?” asked Kill-a-Watt campaign manager, Emma Thirkell. “Which council can boast that their businesses and community organisations have had the most success in finding opportunities for energy savings?”

Unnecessary energy use appears in a range of guises: from faulty fridge seals, over-worked air conditioners and superfluous lighting through to energy-inefficient pumping systems, over-sized appliances and workplace behaviour such as leaving equipment (including computers) on overnight.

“It all adds up,” observed Ms Thirkell, “as so many businesses and community organisations have now discovered through Kill-a-Watt energy assessments.

“It just remains to be seen how the figures will stack up for each council competing in the Local Government Challenge.”

The winning council, to be announced in 30 March, will receive energy-saving prizes.