Are energy management secrets hidden in your metering data?

By unlocking the secrets of energy monitoring, a business can improve its energy management, making consumption and cash flow more predictable and enabling savings. Sometimes, the biggest surprises in terms of savings can be right under your nose, but hidden amongst a mass of data. And if you find them, they can unlock the key to more effective cash-flow management. One of the areas you should be looking at is energy data. If you analyse it properly, it can be used as a tool to forecast energy consumption, which allows you to understand what you’re likely to be spending on energy in the future. That can help you to forecast cash flow and budgets.

‘Cash’ and ‘flow’ are two words that make financial directors break out in a cold sweat when used together. Statistics suggest that energy costs are on the rise - between 2007 and 2012 average industrial electricity prices rose by 35% and gas by 56%, with an increase of 6% and 9% last year respectively. Those who can make a saving therefore stand to be more commercially competitive.

When thinking about your business’s energy management, there are three important things involved in unlocking the secrets in your data, to lock in savings: metering, monitoring, and targeting.

 Metering

Without smart meters you may be overpaying for estimated consumption, rather than for your actual usage. Large consumers can demand half-hourly meters from their suppliers, who must use them to charge for actual consumption. It’s also often worth installing sub-metering devices separately to the fiscal meters.  These take metering to the next level.  Instead of just measuring the energy supply to your site, sub-meters measure energy usage across a site, e.g. what is used by different parts of a building, areas of a manufacturing plant etc. Smart and sub meters provide the accurate, timely data needed to make informed energy management decisions.

Monitoring

There are two sides to monitoring: physical premises and utility bills. Monitor what’s happening at your site(s) by charting your energy usage. Ideally, your building will generate a standard usage footprint, because staff and equipment normally follow a routine. By charting energy consumption activity over time, you can not only see anomalies in use, but you can set base usage thresholds, which can trigger alerts when breached. You can monitor energy usage by collecting metering data and manually recording on spreadsheets, or you can use software tools e.g energy management packages, to help automate this process (particularly effective with sub meters). However, all this will be for nothing unless you also check your utility invoices for accuracy. Understanding how to read a utility bill is key to ensuring you are paying the correct tariffs and charges for the energy you consume. Unless you know how to read a bill and can check costs against your actual usage, you won’t be able to tell. Armed with the above you can begin to accurately predict your future energy consumption and therefore costs.  Taken one step further it allows you to forecast energy cash flow and set budgets with a degree of certainty.

Targeting

This involves using your data to identify areas of concern e.g wastage and targeting them for improvement. Look for areas where usage jumps above a threshold for significant periods, or for areas where usage is constant, but seems high. You might find energy use skyrocketing because a switch that is supposed to operate a piece of equipment intermittently has failed, causing it to run continuously. You may even find faulty plant that you didn’t know about. The business world breathes data. Your marketing department is probably slicing customer data in seemingly infinite ways to work out how it can generate more money. If you aren’t similarly plugged in with regards to your energy management, then you’re losing an equal or greater opportunity to save money. Are you ready to accept the challenge?

Are you ready to accept the challenge? If so, read this blog post to learn how to develop an Energy Strategy in 5 simple steps to help you save money.  

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
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