The question that the headline poses can prove challenging to answer. There are no fool proof ways to distinguish between one electrical design consultant and the next when it comes to their application of energy efficiency within their design or technology recommendations. In truth, just as with all professions, not all Electrical Engineers are born equal.

The skill sets one should identify for when deciding whom to entrust with the design of your electrical system should include a good understanding of renewable energy, energy management systems (like ISO 50001), smart control systems and demand optimisation. If you aren’t sure what some of that means, ask the prospective electrical engineer to explain it to you. If they can explain it and it makes sense, then you are off to a good start. It goes without saying that asking more than one professional to explain their knowledge doesn’t hurt either!

Above all, don’t be misled by the promise of a ‘cost effective’ design or solution (read cheap) without understanding the potential higher energy and maintenance costs you could incur in the long run which will quickly mitigate any initial CAPEX savings enjoyed to begin with. This is why you should look to engage an electrical engineer that understands energy efficiency and demand management and knows how to calculate the ongoing costs to your business, not just the price of the equipment.

As the saying goes in Afrikaans, “Goedkoop koop is duur koop”, roughly translated into English it means buying cheap is expensive. buy cheap pay twice

So where to begin? Like any long term and costly investment (it’s costly to retrofit afterwards), look for a professional to help you. In this case, look for Professional Electrical Engineers with demonstrable energy efficiency and demand management experience and good references. They should be registered with ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa) and have some additional qualification or have completed specialised and accredited training such as Energy Efficiency Management training with Terra Firma Academy or Certified Energy Management training certified by the AEE (Association of Energy Engineers).

A simple example of the financial benefits of installing smart energy efficient lighting and control as opposed to a standard fluorescent solution below.

Typical DesignSmart Design
Fitting TypeStandard T5 FluorescentLED with Smart Controls
Installed kW248150
Annual Operating Hours3 9312 769
Annual kWh974 762415 693
2015/2016 Electricity CostsR 1,496,623R 722,915
SavingR 0R 773,709
Additional CAPEXR 0R 1,443,500
Return on Investment 54%
Five Year Operating CostsR 9,137,035R 4,413,466
Five Year Saving0R 3,280,069