How To Reduce Energy Costs At Any Enterprise
Whether you’re responsible for your own energy bill or you’re a consultant working with a big enterprise – one thing is true: Energy costs are going up, and the smart companies will use all means at their disposal to reduce their energy usage.
Even if you don’t have an “energy management system” per se, you’re probably doing something to keep energy costs under control—simply setting the thermostat at a certain temperature, for example. You might also have some kind of sensor-based system that tracks usage and makes adjustments as needed.
This guideline will walk you through the process of reducing energy costs — from assessment to planning to monitoring:
- Conduct an energy audit and identify opportunities for improvement
- Create an energy strategy and implement it
- Set up an Energy Management System (EnMS) to monitor your system and report on usage.
- Start with a baseline of your energy needs — and establish your goals.
- Monitor your buildings—and use the data you collect to improve performance and reduce costs.
Conduct an energy audit and identify opportunities for improvement
The first step in reducing energy costs is to understand your current energy consumption and where you can improve. Conducting an energy audit can help you identify specific areas of improvement.
In addition to identifying opportunities for improvement, the audit process itself is a great way to build awareness and educate employees about the company’s goals with regards to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
Conducting an audit might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can do it yourself or hire outside help, depending on your resources and preference. Either way, there are some important steps in the process:
Collect a baseline of energy data
This includes collecting information about the building, such as square footage and age. It also includes collecting data on energy consumption from utility bills, monitoring devices (if installed), and building management systems (if applicable). Once you have this data, you’ll be able to compare any changes that you make against the initial baseline.
Conduct a walkthrough of your facility
A physical walkthrough will show you how your facility is running firsthand. You’ll be able to see how the equipment operates at each hour of the day (and night) if there are any problems with operations or maintenance
Create an energy strategy and implement it
Once you know what your current consumption is, take the time to create an energy strategy and implement it. Here are six steps to get started:
1. Educate yourself about potential savings opportunities.
2. Set goals for each part of your building to achieve those savings by a certain date, and track progress toward those goals weekly.
3. Get facility managers involved with each goal and educate them as much as possible about the subject matter related to their goal — whether it’s water conservation or replacing light bulbs with LEDs.
4. Track the results, including both cost savings and environmental impacts, so you can update your goals accordingly as time goes on.
5. Motivate managers by holding competitions among teams or departments in different areas of the building, or even among different buildings under the same roof, such as in a school district or university setting.
6. Create an audit guide so the process can be repeated periodically over time with different goals, ensuring continuous improvement in energy efficiency.
Set up an Energy Management System (EnMS) to monitor your system and report on usage.
If you are just starting to implement energy management you will probably start with an Excel spreadsheet. This may suffice, but if your energy use is complex, you will quickly find that a spreadsheet-based system is inadequate and might look for a professional Energy Management System.
An EnMS can monitor your system and report on usage.
An EnMS is a software program or a set of multiple software tools designed to monitor and control multiple devices within an organization’s physical infrastructure. It combines hardware, software and communication networks to collect data from various devices and sensors that monitor energy use. This includes everything from heating and cooling systems, to lighting, security systems, elevators and much more.
There are a lot of different Energy Management software tools. Some are simple programs that let you input information about your energy use and generate reports. Others are complex, real-time systems that collect massive amounts of data and provide detailed analyses for identifying ways to control and reduce consumption. Over the last decades, technology has greatly enhanced our ability to monitor and control energy usage using automation and data analysis tools.
Energy Management software is ideal for companies with the internal resources to analyze data and determine how to optimize their operations based on the information provided.
A professional EnMS allows you to:
Monitor energy usage in real-time
Store historical data for long-term trend analysis
Automatically generate reports on demand using preset templates
Compare current performance against historical performance
Integrate data from multiple facilities into a single system
Start with a baseline of your energy needs — and establish your goals.
Once you’ve completed an energy audit, you’ll have a baseline of your energy consumption. This will be the reference point to measure against as you work towards your energy consumption targets.
Once you have a baseline of your energy consumption, you can begin to determine the best ways to reduce usage while still maintaining the same level of operations.
Focus on the top three energy-consuming systems in the business so you can understand what’s using the most energy and set targets to reduce their use. Prioritize low-hanging fruit such as lighting retrofits, HVAC maintenance, and plug load reductions.
You can set these goals in terms of absolute euros or dollars saved or as a percentage of your current bill, or you can even set a goal for reducing the number of kWh used per square meter on a monthly basis.
Monitor your buildings—and use the data you collect to improve performance and reduce costs.
Once you have set up your energy management system you start to monitor your buildings—and use the data you collect to constantly improve performance and reduce costs.
- Keep an eye on your energy dashboard
As you’ve seen, a well-designed dashboard makes it easy for anyone to see how much energy any building or group of buildings is using in real-time. That visibility also helps you spot problems as they arise, such as a spike in power use that could indicate faulty equipment. Most dashboards also let you drill down into the data to find out where the problem lies, so you can get it fixed before it becomes more serious.
- Develop an action plan.
You then organize the information into an action plan—including specific initiatives, timelines, responsibilities, and accountability measures—and implement it across your enterprise.
- Schedule regular audits of your buildings
Perform regular audits and inspections to identify where improvements are needed, then implement those improvements as soon as possible. This regular review will ensure that any building upgrades are working as expected and that there are no unplanned issues or equipment failures that may have gone unnoticed or unreported by staff members.
You can reduce your company’s energy costs with a little work, no matter what type of business or industry you’re in! Start with small steps and grow to a professional energy management system.
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