It pays to be green
As energy efficiency and renewable energy becomes the norm, more and more electricians are investigating the eco-friendly market. Adelle King looks at what it takes to be successful when ‘selling green’.
The rise of the environmentally-conscious consumer and ‘green construction’ has fundamentally changed the way electrical contractors operate, or at least should, with the perception being they have to ‘sell green’ in order to be successful. And yet most don’t, or don’t know how.
Victorian electrician Earth & Energy, however, is proof that going green can be beneficial to your bottom line.
Founded in 2015, Earth & Energy focuses solely on eco-friendly electrical solutions and works with clients to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs. While many electrical contractors view ‘building green’ as just another contract requirement to be addressed, Earth & Energy builds green with or without a green design clause.
“Earth & Energy was born from the need to create a business that was not only profitable, but socially responsible. We are immensely passionate about preserving the planet for generations to come and leading the way for socially conscious businesses,” says Earth & Energy director Aaron Durasovic.
In order to achieve the goal of an environmentally prosperous future, Aaron and his team turned to NECA’s EcoSmart Electricians programs, to learn the skills needed to run a profitable yet preservationist company.
NECA WA executive director Garry Itzstein – a passionate supporter of EcoSmart Electricians program – says there are a few steps contractors can take to truly benefit from the ‘green revolution’.
First, he says, you should make use of your existing database of clients.
“You could offer to review and monitor your clients’ power consumption and then recommend equipment and practices that will reduce energy demand or make best use of energy tariffs,” he says.
“If you do this on a regular basis, in particular as new energy efficient technologies become available or when your customer’s equipment begins ageing and becoming unreliable, it will likely pay off for you in the long run.”
Where this approach fails, Garry says, is when contractors use unproven, inappropriate equipment from unknown suppliers, don’t understand regulations and work for too low a margin.
Aaron agrees, explaining that some electrical contractors make the mistake of shifting their focus every time a new government initiative is announced or new technology becomes available.
Instead, he says they need to focus on one area to specialise in, absorb the knowledge and provide the most value they can to their customers. The electrical contractors who have been able to do this, and have positioned themselves as the ‘go-to’ for eco-friendly electrical solutions in their local market, have been able to make significant profits.
“Going green is no longer the cost of doing business – it’s a catalyst for innovation, new market opportunity and wealth creation,” says Aaron.
Often, the first step for contractors on the path to efficiency is making their own business ‘green’.
To do this, it’s important electrical contractors know which solutions and products are suitable and, in turn, profitable.
“First, you need to make sure that the components you install meet the required standards and are purchased from reputable Australian-based suppliers,” Garry says.
“You should also be wary of working for large PV system retailers that are driving the price of systems down below the actual cost.”
Very importantly, he says, you shouldn’t rely on a small number of energy retailers to source your installation work as this increases the risk to the business .
Perhaps the easiest and most common way contractors can peddle green tech is by promoting the installation of LEDs.
That said, Aaron questions whether the act of retrofitting LED downlights could be considered a waste of money for end users.
“The common extra low voltage 7W LED lamp can have up to 7W of loss across its iron core transformer. As a result, all energy benefits are lost,” he says.
Ultimately, it is your job as an electrician to educate your customers on the eco-friendly services available to them. So, educating yourself – with the assistance of an organisation like EcoSmart Electricians – is more important now than ever before.
“Thanks to the internet, end users are generally aware of the types of products and systems that are available, albeit broadly. The problem is they often don’t see the detail or understand how this may impact performance of the new systems and products,” says Garry.
This is something Earth & Energy has tried to overcome as part of its holistic approach to looking at business energy consumption.
“Not only do we want to help clients by installing eco-friendly products in their businesses but also by educating them on their benefits, operational costs and carbon footprint,” says Aaron.
“We’ve recently created a workshop that is offered to clients with multiple employees to show staff how modifying their habits and behaviours in their workplace can have a positive impact on the planet. This awareness translates into reduced consumption and operational costs for the business.”
A complete commitment to green electrics might not be the right strategy for every business but as the green movement grows, integrating aspects of it into products or services is going to be vital to enable electrical contractors to move and adapt with the market.
“Market disruption is happening with lightening speed and with a heightened focus on green energy you are essentially future-proofing your business,” says Aaron.