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Barbara Albert from Sustainable Business Consulting interviewed by Bite Magazine

Bite Magazine article first page Sustainable Business Consulting Barbara AlbertBarbara Albert from Sustainable Business Consulting recently got interviewed for an article on energy efficiency and renewable energy for dental practices. The article is featured in the September edition of Australia’s Bite Magazine.

Running a dental practice means that money needs to be spent on things like lighting, air conditioning, and dental equipment. But as electricity bills and consumer awareness of environmental issues continue to rise, reducing the carbon footprint is becoming more important. Decreasing usage, installing energy saving equipment and investing in renewable energy—in that order—will help to reduce electricity bills by as much as one-third.

The first step should be to investigate the energy bills and to have a look around the practice to see which items consume electricity. The next step is to get practice staff into the habit of switching off lights, computers and equipment that is not being used. This includes equipment left on stand-by mode, especially overnight, which can amount to 10 percent of the electricity bill. “Look around the practice—is there anything running that doesn’t need to run?” asks Barbara Albert, director of Sustainable Business Consulting. “Anything that gives off light, sound or heat consumes electricity. This is the easiest way to reduce your energy bills because you don’t need to change anything. It’s simply a matter of turning things off.”

Next, dental practices should look at upgrading their equipment – including heating and air-conditioning units, lighting, computers and dental equipment—to energy-efficient models where possible. Upgrades that focus on the total cost of ownership —the acquisition and running costs combined—will lead to long-term savings. “For example, upgrading from fluorescent lighting to LED tubes will reduce energy consumption. It’s more expensive to purchase LED tubes, but the running costs are so much better. They might also give a better output from the light as LEDs are brighter, meaning fewer lights are needed.”

After completing the upgrade, a maintenance schedule should be established to protect the efficiency of the equipment, and to make sure it is operated correctly. It is recommended to have the air-conditioning set to 24 degrees during summer and the heater to 18 degrees in winter. To make sure the air-conditioning units aren’t working too hard, passive design upgrades to the building should be applied to help it stay cool in summer and warm in winter. Windows can be shaded during summer, ceiling insulation can be installed and windows and doors can be draught-proofed. Ceiling insulation alone can reduce the electricity bill by 20 per cent.
quote Barbara Albert energy efficiency in dental practices

Once the energy consumption is reduced to the smallest possible amount, a dental practice should consider generating their own electricity rather than buying off the grid. For most dental practices, this means installing solar panels on the roof. Solar panels are well suited to dental practices because peak harvest times coincide with the daytime opening hours of most practices. “Solar panels are extremely beneficial for dental practices because production peaks around lunchtime and starts revving up at around 9am,” says Albert. “There’s not a lot of maintenance, either – the system gets installed, connected and just runs. It’s very simple. If you have the option, the roof needs to be ideally north-facing and can’t be obstructed by trees or other obstacles.”

Due to low feed-in tariffs—the payment per kWh made to businesses and households generating their own electricity—Albert says there’s little value in exporting excess electricity to the grid, which means practices will need to fork out for electricity outside of peak harvest times and on cloudy days. However, the good news is on-site storage systems are expected to become cost effective within the next few years.

For a downloadable version of the article, please click on this link: Bite Magazine interviews Barbara Albert from Sustainable Business Consulting.


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