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Date

Phillip Thomson

Maryke Booth, Director of Shop Basics in Fyshwick, has gone eco friendly in her approach to her business.

Maryke Booth, Director of Shop Basics in Fyshwick, has gone eco friendly in her approach to her business. Photo: Graham Tidy

EVEN if you're selling corn starch cutlery and plates made from sugarcane fibre, Maryke Booth is proof you can always do more to help the world - and save several hundred dollars a month.

The environmentally inclined entrepreneur is among dozens of business owners using ACT government assistance to reduce their electricity costs.

She is saving $200 to $300 a month after replacing the fluorescent bulbs at her Fyshwick shop with cheaper, lower-intensity LED lights and putting a timer on her hot-water system.

''I'm a bit of a greenie,'' she said.

More than 50 businesses have taken part in a government program to reduce energy costs since July this year. Leader of the program Ros Malouf said businesses saved at least 30 per cent on their electricity bills if they took part. Sometimes business people, including Ms Booth, halved their electricity costs.

This works out to be a lot of money for some enterprises, which spend as much as $20,000 a year on electricity.

The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate, which runs the ACTSmart Business Energy and Water program, sends assessors to shops and offices that take part.

''We take the confusion out of the process for them - their job is cutting hair or making coffee,'' Ms Malouf said. The businesses pay a $50 fee, but this can be refunded. Up to $5000 can be earned back through rebates after suggested changes are made.

The government's rebate can cover half the cost of the changes.

Nine out of 10 businesses doing the program end up making changes.

''It doesn't matter whether you own the building,'' Ms Malouf said.

''And a lot of businesses have long leases so you can get the benefit out of it.''

Lighting and poor equipment, such as fridges with broken seals, were the two biggest areas of improvement for businesses.

Pauline Wilson, manager of a similar government program for residential homes, said that in the summer home owners could save money by installing awnings to block the sun shining into windows. This could save $100 a year.

Home Energy Advice Team audits cost $30, or are free for pensioners, and this can be claimed back.

Rebates up to $500 are on offer, if a person spends $2000. Half the households that receive an audit go on to claim the $500 rebate.

Gaps around doors and windows should also be blocked, to keep any cool air inside. And it saves up to 10 per cent on a heating bill in winter.

Ceiling insulation for a house of 140 square metres costs $1200 and saves up to $400 annually. Retrofitting walls in the same size house with insulation costs $2000 and saves as much as $300 a year.

LED lights can last 50 times longer than traditional incandescent globes, so while they are more expensive to buy the savings are made in the long run. Turn lights off when leaving the room.

Replacing an electric hot-water storage heater, which can be heating water constantly and unnecessarily throughout the day, can cost between $900 and $3500 but saves $100 to $400 a year.

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