Why Energy Monitoring is Critical to Reducing Business Energy Waste

October 4th, 2007 by

Thanks to Martin Bromley for responding to my post about sharing energy efficiency information in honor of Energy Awareness Month by submitting the following article. Martin notes that although the article refers to “business” energy waste, the concepts discussed apply to other organizations such as government offices, colleges, schools, etc. Please note that reference to Martin’s software, Energy Lens, is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an endorsement by GLRPPR or WMRC.–JS

Why Energy Monitoring is Critical to Reducing Business Energy Waste
By Martin Bromley

Monitoring energy consumption is vitally important for businesses that want to cut their costs and environmental impact by saving energy. This article gives an introduction to energy monitoring, and explains why it is so important for business energy management.

“Energy monitoring”, or “monitoring and targeting”, is the process of analyzing energy-consumption data to find signs of waste (opportunities to target), and to track changes in energy consumption as time goes on and as energy-saving measures are implemented.

Energy monitoring goes hand in hand with energy management: the process of controlling and conserving energy consumption within an organization. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” has become a real cliché in the energy-management industry, but it does hold a lot of truth: energy monitoring brings measurement into the process of energy management, and makes it hugely more effective as a result.

Monitor energy consumption to see if you are improving:

Energy monitoring enables you to see if your energy efficiency is improving as time goes on. A big part of energy management is implementing energy-saving measures, and energy monitoring enables you assess how well your energy-saving measures are working.

For example, you might decide to try changing the power-management settings on staff computers, to reduce their energy consumption when they aren’t in use. By analyzing your energy-consumption data, you should be able to tell whether or not such a measure has helped to save energy, and you should be able to get an indication of how much energy it has saved. This helps you to decide whether an energy-saving measure is worth pursuing further, or whether it’s time to focus your energy-management attention elsewhere.

Energy monitoring will also enable you to prove the energy savings that you’ve achieved — if your hard work has hammered down energy consumption at your business, you’ll want to be able to prove it!

Monitor energy consumption to find energy waste:

Energy monitoring can also be a very effective way to find out when and where your business is wasting energy. Traditional weekly or monthly meter readings are little use for this, but the detail contained within modern energy-consumption data such as 15-minute or half-hourly data makes it easy to identify specific days and times when the business is routinely using energy unnecessarily.

For most businesses, the quickest way to make big energy savings is to ensure that equipment is switched off when it isn’t needed. You might think that this is easy: just make sure that people switch things off. However, it’s rarely that straightforward. If a light is left on it’s usually clear to see, but the energy consumption of other types of equipment is often much less obvious. Also, unless your building is very small, it can take a long time to check all the equipment that should be switched off. Things are further complicated by people working on after you’ve gone home, and by equipment that’s controlled by timers (you need to keep checking that the timers are set and working correctly).

If you have good quality energy data (such as 15-minute or half-hourly data), analyzing it once a week or once a month will make it easy to see how much energy is being used throughout each working day, and when the building is closed. You can check whether staff and timers are switching things off without having to patrol the building day and night, and, with a little detective work, you can usually figure out who or what is causing the energy wastage that you will inevitably find. A good understanding of your energy-consumption patterns will also help you to make informed decisions about where best to focus your energy-management attention, enabling you to hone in on the biggest, easiest energy savings first.

Getting started with energy monitoring:

If you are not already monitoring your energy consumption, you are almost certainly wasting energy that is costing your business, and costing the planet.

The good news is that it’s easy to get started with energy monitoring: once a week (or once a month) spend a little time analyzing your energy-consumption data from the previous week (or month). Look for signs of waste and take steps to ensure that such waste doesn’t happen again.

Wise investments into energy monitoring should pay for themselves many times over with the energy savings you’ll achieve by making your business more energy efficient. So why not get started today?!

About the author, and further resources:

Martin Bromley is a keen advocate of energy monitoring, and one of the main people behind Energy Lens: a software package that makes it easy to turn energy-consumption data into energy monitoring charts and tables that are invaluable for energy management.

If you are interested in saving energy at your organization, please do visit the Energy Lens website at http://www.energylens.com/ for more information and a freely downloadable trial of the Energy Lens software.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Martin_Bromley; reprinted with author’s permission.

One Response to “Why Energy Monitoring is Critical to Reducing Business Energy Waste”

  1. Martin Bromley Says:

    I’d like to add a little more about how useful I believe energy monitoring to be for specifically raising energy awareness.

    I think that there are different levels of energy awareness, and also different ways in which people exhibit it. Some people think of energy consumption as primarily a monetary cost, whilst others think of it primarily as a source of CO2 emissions or just something bad (relating to environmental damage, pollution, depletion of natural resources etc.). Of course, many people, probably most people, just don’t really think about it at all – certainly not often anyway, and not when they’re at work.

    I think of there being two main levels of energy awareness (after the zero level, where there just isn’t any energy awareness). This is just based on my own experience of people’s attitudes to energy consumption – I hope I’m not contradicting the results of any more academic study!

    I think the first level of energy awareness comes when a person becomes just a bit more aware of the fact that the things they do and the equipment that they use results in energy being used that would otherwise not have been used. They might think of that energy consumption in terms of money, CO2, or whatever, but, however they’re thinking about energy consumption, they’re one step ahead of the people that just don’t give it a moment’s thought (the people with zero energy awareness).

    The second level of energy awareness (on my scale of 0 to 2) comes when a person becomes more aware of roughly how much energy consumption they are responsible for. This doesn’t need to be exact numbers (probably only energy geeks like me would ever think about their energy consumption in too much detail!), but just a rough idea of the actual impact that their behaviour has. They’re aware of which of their activities or equipment use a lot of energy, and they can prioritise their energy-efficiency efforts accordingly. For example, they would understand the magnitude of the wastage that would result from turning all the lights on in a large office to light just one desk – as a result they’d be very careful not to do it. But they probably wouldn’t worry so much about a 20W desk lamp being left on unnecessarily for a little while. Having a rough idea of the figures would enable them to do a pretty good job of avoiding energy waste, without neglecting what it is that they’re actually paid to do (assuming they have a job title that isn’t “Energy Manager”…). The upshot of all this is that people with an awareness of the figures tend to be more energy efficient.

    So where does energy monitoring come in? Well, the sorts of energy-data analysis that are involved in an effective energy-monitoring programme should give a whole host of facts and figures about how much energy is being used, by what equipment, and when. For example, if people are leaving lots of things switched on when the building is closed, an effective energy monitoring programme will make it easy to get a reasonable estimate of how much energy waste that inefficiency is causing. And, with knowledge of how much energy is being wasted, it’s easy enough to calculate how much CO2 that waste is responsible for, and how much unnecessary cost.

    If these figures are shared with staff (in a summary format – perhaps not all the gory detail), it helps in a number of ways:

    Firstly, the figures can have a significant impact on those people with zero energy awareness. It’s one thing to tell people not to waste energy, but it’s a lot more effective to tell them that the energy consumption of their office is responsible for x kg CO2 a day, $y of cost etc. Rather than telling people that each degree of overheating in the building increases the energy consumption by x% (a generic estimate), you can tell them that each degree of overheating costs x kWh, $y, and z kg CO2. The figures that come out of energy monitoring make it possible to personalize the message in this way, which is great for raising energy awareness.

    Secondly, giving real figures can help to move people to the next stage of energy awareness where they gain an understanding of the magnitude of their energy consumption, and become more energy efficient as a result.

    Finally, as described in my article, energy monitoring makes it possible to show evidence of improvement. For example, with good data, you can actually demonstrate that an effort to switch off equipment on Friday evenings (for an organization that’s closed on weekends) has resulted in savings of x kWh (or y%, etc.). This feedback can provide great encouragement to staff that have helped to make that improvement happen.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.