You can’t manage what you can’t measure

It’s not uncommon for a business to measure its energy usage in terms of monthly or quarterly bills or annual spend. And given its bottom-line impact, this isn’t a bad place to start. But understanding energy usage is key to really reducing spend.

Many businesses fix their energy prices with annual contracts, choosing their supplier based on standard metrics such as pence per unit (PPU) or standing charge. If you start to understand how and when energy is used within your organisation, you can develop an energy strategy. It’s a bit like treating an illness, where the PPU costs are the symptoms, but the key to finding a cure is to really understand what’s driving those costs.

How and when energy is used will vary widely across different industries and sectors. Most office usage is likely to be daytime heating and lighting whereas most activity in a warehouse could happen during the night, and a manufacturer may need to have machinery running 24/7. Half-hourly meters bill to 30-minute slots, which likely have different rates depending on the season and the time of day or night.

Finding cures rather than treating symptoms

Alongside the finance department, or an accountant tracking spend, it would help to easily understand energy consumption by site and to be able to compare and track this against previous periods. If the board of directors were to ask you for energy usage figures across multiple sites or when peak periods occur, would you be able to answer quickly and easily? Imagine if instead of simply asking for sign off on a new energy contract next year, you could talk to your business’ senior stakeholders about how changing shift patterns to move energy-intensive activity into cheaper times of the day could really impact their bottom line.

Energy management systems allow you to do this and more, moving far beyond basic site or multi-site usage. In today’s energy world it is possible to consider the following actions.

  • Setting triggers to show up when and how often load peaks are met or breached, even when they occur across different sites
  • Benchmarking performance across sites to understand where performance is optimal or sub-optimal
  • Accurately forecasting usage based on past trends

Environmental considerations

The global environmental crisis is also now at the top of many organisations’ agendas, with even major banks recognising the need to act. With a good energy management system, you can track the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures and calculate emissions to hit sustainability targets. As well as being good for the environment this can also provide evidence of your green credentials, useful when trying to win more business.

By fully understanding its energy usage an organisation should be able to develop an energy strategy that optimises spend and improves its sustainability. And with this thorough understanding also comes the knowledge needed to negotiate more effectively with energy suppliers.