Boosting business competitiveness through energy monitoring and targeting
In previous articles I have written about energy management from a number of angles but, whichever way you look at it, the only way to manage anything is to begin by measuring one or more of the parameters associated with it.
If you were running a sports team the way in which it would be managed would be governed by runs/points/goals scored or conceded, by the position in the league, whether anyone came along to watch and so on. Managing your energy usage is, similarly, based on a series of basic parameters that underpin the greater detail.
There are five overarching headings that are to be considered when making a decision about how to measure the energy performance of your company.
Energy use: Fundamentally this information comes from your meters. These can be the permanent meters owned by the energy supply company, sub-meters or temporary ‘clip-on’ meters. The more complex your business processes, the more meters you should have to measure usage in different areas.
The benefit of sub-metering is that readings can be taken from individual areas or pieces of equipment, allowing more performance control.
The environment for staff: Is the building comfortable to work in? Are there complaints about the temperature, the lighting, stuffiness? Is ventilation good enough to ensure the atmosphere is conducive to efficient working? How much of this are you aware of? How objective is that information?
Equipment: All businesses have equipment ranging from copiers to condensers, fans to furnaces. How effectively are they being used? Every time a piece of equipment is switched/turned on it is using fuel, i.e. costing the company money. How do you know when equipment is being used, how often and how efficiently?
People generate heat: The more staff you have the more that becomes a factor. A person moving around in a room can generate a third of a kilowatt of heat per hour. This can be a factor when setting controls for air conditioning or heating.
Another ‘people factor’ is that they can ‘interfere’ with settings. There are ‘hot’ people and ‘cold’ people. There are those that turn equipment on and not off, that continually alter controls. A business can invest in the best technology to save energy but the behaviour of employees can dramatically reduce the potential gains. Are you monitoring this?
Energy performance: As a business you can monitor your energy bills on an annual basis and take satisfaction from any savings. But do you know how well your consumption compares to other similar businesses?
Energy management, by virtue of how it measures, monitors and provides you with facts, with current measurable information that is verifiable, is a powerful discipline. It provides benchmark data from which actions and improvements can be made – helping to boost the competitiveness of your organisation.