What is peak demand?

Peak demand is when electricity usage on the network is at its highest. It can put a strain on the electricity network and lead to power outages. Queensland's rapidly growing population also adds to peak demand.

This means we may need to spend money building-up the network to stop power outages at peak demand times. This cost can contribute to electricity price rises. So, to keep our electricity costs as low as possible, we all need to be smarter about how and when we use power.

When is peak demand time?

Peak demand time at work will vary depending on the types of businesses in the area. For example, a shopping centre may have a peak demand in the middle of the day when the air conditioning is working the hardest and lights and other appliances are on. Peak demand time for industrial sites like factories and mines will vary depending on how they operate.

"Peak demand" refers to the total amount of electricity used at any one time, and measured in kilo volt ampere (kVA) or kilowatt (kW).  This is different to "energy", which is the total amount of electricity consumed over a period that is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).

Our network demand monitor shows real-time electricity usage and is a great way to learn more about peak demand times.

Managing peak demand

We watch demand on the network and undertake regular forecasting to predict network demand.  Our aim is to reduce the chance of outages due to demand from all customers exceeding the capacity of the local network. If total customer demand exceeds capacity, this may cause localised network issues, like blackouts. To mitigate these issues we may need to spend money to upgrade the electricity network in those areas.

In some cases, we may provide financial incentives to customers to reduce their demand, where it is a cost effective alternative.  These costs are one of the contributors to electricity price rises.

Managing demand at work

The main benefit for a business to reduce demand is to lower energy costs, particularly if they are on a demand tariff.  There are a number of ways businesses can reduce peak demand and these will vary depending on the nature of your work, the hours of operation, appliances and equipment used.

If your business is on a demand tariff, your electricity bill will show the maximum demand in the billing period charged.  Knowing your maximum demand is important.  Also knowing when the peak occurs is important to identify which appliances or processes are contributing to peak demand.

Monitoring demand at work

Your electricity retailer may be able to provide you with a load profile that shows when demand occurs. A load profile shows how your demand varies throughout a given period, usually measured in half hour intervals. There might be a fee for this.

If you are considering moving to a demand tariff, but you aren’t able to obtain a load profile from your electricity retailer, you could install your own monitoring equipment that will provide you with your load profile. Then you can assess which demand tariff is best for you and any appropriate strategies to manage or reduce peak demand.

Some electricity retailers and hardware providers may offer an on-line portal or App so you can monitor your demand throughout the day. You can even have alerts sent via text or email when demand reaches pre-set levels, so you can intervene to manage the demand or have automated building energy management systems do that for you.

Tips for reducing peak demand

Here are some general tips to help you reduce peak demand in your business:

  • Set your air conditioner to an energy-efficient 25 degrees
  • Raise the evaporator temperature of your refrigeration to its maximum possible level for best efficiency
  • Switch your pool pump and hot water system to an economy tariff
  • Install a timer on hot water system so it doesn't run during your peak period
  • Replace your fixed speed compressed air system, pool pump and other pumps with energy efficient variable speed models
  • Schedule the use of appliances and equipment so they're staggered throughout the day
  • Shift loads from peak to off-peak times
  • Use alternative fuels (i.e. use solar water heating instead of electric)
  • Generate energy on-site (i.e. though a solar power system)
  • Use a building management system to control loads
  • Install Power factor correction to improve your power factor (applies to kVa tariffs).

Getting advice from an energy efficiency consultant could be your first step to saving money on your business electricity bills.

See our business resources and case studies showing how other businesses have cut their power bills through reducing both demand and total energy consumption.

Make sure you check out our Incentives program.  You may be eligible for cashback incentives by reducing your peak demand.