One of Australia’s biggest energy efficiency programs in the energy-intensive aged care sector is underway, with Verdia outfitting 54 Opal Aged Care properties on the eastern seaboard with LED lights and solar panels.
More than 10,500 solar panels capable of generating 3.4 MWs of electricity will go on the roofs of the aged care facilities, and over 28,000 LED lights will be installed.
Expected for completion in early to mid next year, the program will cut onsite grid electricity use by about 42 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent in the aged homes across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
At one of the homes near Newcastle in NSW, for example, the improvements are expected to cut energy use by 25 per cent and slash electricity costs by about $53,000 a year, including the reduced lighting maintenance costs.
The payback on the solar and LED investment in the NSW aged care home is just over five years.
According to Verdia, the aged care provider is taking advantage of the more competitive prices of both solar PV and LED lighting technology to help keep its operational costs down and lower its environmental impact.
The intention is to also improve lighting quality, which is an issue in aged care homes where some residents might be experiencing declining eyesight.
Verdia chief executive officer Paul Peters also said that about 35 per cent of the total energy consumed at a typical aged care facility is used for lighting.
Based on trials of lighting options across several properties and surveys, the company has opted for warmer LED lights in bedrooms and living spaces to improve the ambience. Lights in the kitchens and bathrooms will be brighter to help residents navigate.
The pressure is mounting to make aged care sector more sustainable, with the sector expected to grow as our population ages. By 2051, it is estimated that people aged 65 years and over will represent one quarter of the Australian population (6.8 million people).
In 2017, 902 organisations provided over 201,000 aged care places in Australia.