Otago DHB to save $300,000 a year on energy bills

  • David Parker

Dunedin Hospital expects to save more than $300,000 a year (up to 13 percent of its energy bill) by improving the efficiency of its lighting, heating, hot water and energy management.

The government is helping fund the energy efficiency improvements, which will start later this year and pay for themselves within five years, Energy Minister David Parker announced today.

“It makes more sense to save energy than to build new generation if it’s more cost effective to do so, and that’s a principle the Labour-led government has introduced.

“It also makes sense to invest in ways that save taxpayers’ dollars, while providing the same level of service.”

The Otago District Health Board projects are being funded through Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s Crown Loans programme, which lends money to public sector organisations to cover the up-front costs of energy saving projects, and through the Electricity Commission’s commercial electricity efficiency programme.

The Crown Loan will make up $1.595 million of the $1.94 million project, with the remainder ($345,000) funded by the Electricity Commission. The DHB will repay the loan over five years.

Otago & Southland DHB Regional Chief Financial Officer Robert Mackway-Jones said the biggest savings at Dunedin Hospital would be from lighting.

“By using more efficient fluorescent tubes we can save almost 1.3 million kWh a year (equivalent to the electricity used by 130 households) without compromising on the amount of light delivered.

“Hot water flow restrictors will be installed to reduce the amount of hot water which pours from taps and showers, without compromising patients’ and staff’s needs.”

Another important element of the project is replacing the 27-year old heating and air conditioning pneumatic control system with a new centralised electronic building management system, Mr Robert Mackway-Jones said.

The new system will also be more responsive so will adjust more readily to acknowledge heat from the sun and will mean areas can be isolated so their heating and air conditioning can be switched to minimal when they are not in use.

"This will not only reduce the amount of energy wasted, but also make Dunedin Hospital more comfortable for patients and staff."

Using less hot water and having more efficient heating will mean less coal will need to be burnt in the boilers which supply the steam which heats the hospital and the water it uses, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 2,300 tonnes a year (equivalent to getting about 700 cars off the road).

“By using energy more efficiently, the Otago DHB will be able to spend more health dollars where it really counts – on better health care,” Mr Mackway-Jones said.