Energy Management in Real-Time

Energy Management takes many shapes and forms; if you find yourself having difficulty reducing energy costs and maintaining energy reduction perhaps the problem is the information you are receiving. Lord Kelvin said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot control it.” In order to truly understand how your facility is using energy you must receiving your energy consumption data in real-time. Real-time energy information is an invaluable tool for Energy Management. Being able to see your energy consumption in real-time allows you to cut back, turn off, and save energy. There are multiple ways having constantly updated information can help you monitor and manage your energy consumption. Most of the savings gained from real-time energy monitoring can be completed without spending a single penny.

Once you begin receiving real-time information your first goal will become finding the lowest possible energy use. Using a web-based real-time energy management system, such as Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO), you can take a notepad or smart phone with you around your facility. Turn off lights, equipment, and anything using electricity then use the real-time display to assure your consumption has gone down. Once you have found your lowest possible usage you should set an alert or alarm for this amount or use it as a baseline. Without real-time information there would be no way of knowing this exact amount of use.

The CEMO system will alert you if the system is above a certain level during off hours, such as over night or on the weekends, or during the workday. The energy you use when no one is around can be substantial, and in many cases off hours make up just as much time as operating hours. Assuring your operation is using as little energy as possible over night or on the weekends will guarantee less energy is being wasted. Keep in mind; wasted energy is wasted money. With a comprehensive system, such as CEMO, you will be able to display the information on a web-browser, company kiosks or displays. Allowing users to see their energy consumption and offering incentives to lower the consumption will result in lower energy use. With off hour use at a minimum and consumers using less energy your bills will begin to decline rapidly.

There are many other ways real-time energy monitoring can help you reduce your electric bill, many of the other options are specific to your area and payment plans. For corporate and industrial users a lot of expense can be avoided by knowing exactly when your peak demand is occurring. If you are charged time of use charges or peak demand charges it becomes incredibly beneficial to know exactly when and how much electricity you are consuming. A Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system can provide this information at the click of a mouse on an easy to read web-based system offer alerts, alarms and ISO certified engineering services. Real-time information takes the guess work out of your energy consumption and costs.

Simplifying Energy Data Gathering and Reporting

For the energy or facility manager the traditional style of data gathering can be a very strenuous process. Many facility managers may have a system in place gathering data in real-time and this is a huge step in the right direction, but what is happening to all the data? All too often the data is being collected, stored on a CD or DVD and tossed in a box for storage where it is never heard from again. There are many facility managers gathering the data themselves by reading the meters on a daily basis or from their monthly utility bills. Once the information is gathered where does it all go? In most cases it winds up in excel or some other type of spreadsheet. Once here it will be graphed and calculated in order to receive costs per square foot, energy consumption per square foot, peak demand and other important information. Other calculations may be completed to weather normalize or to figure in heating and cooling degree day variations.

An extensive amount of a facility, operations or energy managers time is spent dealing with large amounts of raw data. After the manager has gone over the data, completed calculations and made graphs it becomes necessary to show that data to others in the company. Unfortunately, many individuals lack the same love for excel spreadsheets and raw data many engineers hold close and dear to their hearts. It is this lack of love that makes communication difficult between those actually working in the facility and those responsible for the budgets or purchases for the facility. Jargon and slang specific to each operation are similar to a foreign language, when communicating with someone speaking a different language a translator becomes necessary.

Communication comes in many shapes and forms but it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system offers invaluable information in easy to understand formats. Simple graphs and dials are available on easy to read and understand web-based dashboards. Behind the dashboards is a powerful system using cloud computing to complete the calculations, gather the data, store the information and graph it. All of the information is stored in a database where it can be access at any time or dumped into excel for more in depth analysis. The CEMO system will save the facility or operations manager countless hours of their priceless time. It will allow them to see, in real-time, how their operations and facilities are performing to help make necessary decisions which will lower costs. The dashboards make communicating issues easier than ever, and since it is online a plant manager in California can show information to a CFO in New York in a matter of seconds.

Don’t Sacrifice For Savings

In today’s rough economic times average consumers are faced with the challenge of stretching their pennies as far as they will go. This does not mean you need to sacrifice. Using your money wisely will allow you to enjoy the same luxuries you are accustomed to at a lower price. The trick becomes seeing opportunities and taking advantage of them. Several products exist that will pay for themselves in a very short time and allow you to enjoy the simple things in life while spending less. If you need to stretch your budget but don’t want to sacrifice consider these alternatives.

A high efficiency shower heads will allow you to take the same length of shower and still use less water. Using less water will result in fewer charges and the shower head will quickly pay for itself. Another item to consider is your morning coffee, latte or espresso. Some consumers will not only stop at their local coffee shop on the way to work but also throughout the day. The bill for a coffee a day can easily end up in the thousands for an entire year. Consider purchasing a coffee pot and brewing your own coffee, if you prefer lattes or espresso find a machine that accommodates this; you will still end up paying less and saving money in the long run.

Throughout the day many users will consume bottles of water, either at home or on the go. Consider purchasing a refrigerated filtered water pitcher. Not only will it save you money on the expense of the bottled water you will be creating less garbage. Buying a reusable bottle will allow you to have clean filtered water on the go.

Energy and electricity is a major cost for most consumers. Generally in order to save energy sacrifices must be made, not with the purchase of these products. Programmable thermostats will allow you to keep the temperature at appropriate levels throughout the day without requiring any extra attention. Why heat or cool an empty house? Another useful tool is the home energy monitor. This tool allows you to see if anything is using electricity before you leave the house or go to bed. If something is using electricity without your knowledge it is also wasting your money, find it, stop it, and use the monitor to ensure it remains off. The average home has almost 40 always on devices stealing your hard earned money.

Real-Time Competitive Advantage

Many programs exist to help manage your energy bills. Some of these programs involve inputting your monthly utility bills into a program which tracks your expenses and any changes taking place. Other programs will gather the monthly data from your utility company and graph it on a monthly basis. More advanced energy management programs will normalize the data by weather, square footage and other factors. The question becomes, is this enough? By the time your bill is generated you have already been charged for the usage. While it may be nice to keep your files organized are you really getting enough information from a monthly bill to truly know what is going on inside your facility?

There are some things you can discern from a monthly bill, but the amount of information you can gather is limited and once you have received the bill it is already too late to stop the charges from happening. One building may be performing worse than another building, and if the information is normalized for an accurate comparison the next question instantly transforms into why? To answer this question it is increasingly necessary to view the real-time consumption of a facility. When you have the ability to view the usage in real-time you have the ability to see exactly when the consumption is higher on a minute by minute, hour, or daily basis. A lot can happen and change in a month affecting a bill, being able to look back and see exactly when the consumption increased, or alerted exactly when it changes, will help you narrow in on exactly the problem, and possibly stop it before you are charged for it.

Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) allows users to see their energy consumption in real-time. This allows the consumer to see exactly when something has increase the consumption in their facility. Not only will this help users narrow in on how the consumption has increased it can also help prevent the extra charges associated with increased consumption from reaching the bill altogether. If you have the ability to see something exactly when it happens and stop it immediately you can save a substantial amount of energy, money and time. To help you save energy further CEMO offers alerts and alarms to warn you when certain levels are reached or exceeded, and a team of highly qualified engineers monitors your facility constantly.

If you are relying on monthly statements you may notice a problem a month after the fact, and then you will have to wait another month to see if the changes were successful in fixing the problem. That is potentially 60-90 days worth of charges that you could have stopped in a single afternoon if you had real-time information. In the business world information is power, having detailed real-time information of exactly how your facility is performing and being able to prevent extra charges will give you a competitive advantage that you couldn’t receive from monthly statements alone.

Fostering Energy Accountability and Awareness

Many issues are best solved in a group environment. Most addictions are stopped through group interactions and accountability. Even if it is just two people together in the form of a psychiatrist and a patient, the best way to change your habits is to be held accountable for them. This holds true even when it comes to our addiction to energy. One of the best ways to reduce energy consumption is to hold those using the energy accountable for it. Another useful tool in terms of reducing energy consumption is energy awareness. Being aware of how much energy you use can have a great impact on how much energy is saved; in many cases consumers are simply unaware a device uses as much energy as it does. Before undertaking an energy management plan you need to decide how you plan to make the users accountable and aware of their energy consumption.

Posting monthly energy bills can help users become aware of how much they are using on a monthly basis, but it will not help them dial in on habits or tell them how much various practices are consuming. In order to truly receive information that will allow you to change your habits you will need real-time information. Real-time energy consumption information allows user to see exactly how their actions are affecting consumption. The system will also need to keep the users accountable for their use. Posting a live stream of information for all to see can be a useful tool, setting alerts and alarms when certain levels are achieved can also help foster accountability. Monthly bills result in a single reminder once a month that may last a few days, but real-time information is constantly there reminding users they need to save energy. A system combining real-time energy awareness with accountability will result in the most successful energy management plan.

The Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system allows users to set alerts and alarms, view information on company intranet sites, public kiosks or displays and offers real-time energy consumption data. The tools offer the accountability and awareness needed for successful management practices. In addition to these tools, CEMO takes monitoring to the next level by offering detailed data, analytical tools, and expert advice needed to take active control of energy consumption and costs. With all users aware and accountable of their use and experts weighing in on how to further improve consumption electric use will easily fall resulting in lower energy consumption and costs.

Managing Your Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Carbon has become a word that is used most often to denote global warming and pollution. The word carbon has become a vulgar word in modern society, often being portrayed in a negative light. The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been to put a stop to Carbon, and its other gaseous Greenhouse friends, for the past 40 years. Many different methods and practices have been put in place to slow down or stop the emission of carbon dioxide, the by-product of burning fossil fuels. From the implementation of Renewable Energy Standards to the discussion of taxes or fines on carbon; everything has been considered. One method commonly used to reduce Carbon from entering the atmosphere is called Carbon Capture Sequestration or Storage abbreviated CCS.

CCS takes the carbon that would have entered into the atmosphere and redirects it to other sources, such as underground caverns or bacteria filled ponds. CCS does not result in less Carbon being produced; it merely results in less carbon entering the atmosphere. Unfortunately, negative side effects still exist in the form of polluted aquifers, soil and water. The EPA has decided to further restrict Carbon, even the carbon sequestered by CCS practices. Those participating in CCS now must account for all the carbon emitted and store and must assure the water surrounding them is safe from contamination often associated with CCS. Until completely renewable technology is available and viable for businesses something needs to be done to lessen the burden on those responsible for accounting all the carbon within the CCS process.

Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) grants users the ability to monitor and manage anything that can be metered all on a comprehensive easy to read web-based dashboard. The information the CEMO system monitors will be stored on an external database that can be accessed from anywhere at any time making carbon accounting as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. The CEMO system has the ability to be customized according to the user’s needs. Anything that can be metered, can be monitored and measure, if you cannot measure it you cannot control it. With the CEMO system monitoring and controlling your CCS no longer needs to occupy all of your time.

Preventing Huge Holiday Electric Bills

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us. With Thanksgiving approaching at the end of this week many people either have already or will soon set up their Christmas decorations. Decorations are a great way to get into the season and spread cheer but they can also be a great way to increase your electric bills. As Christmas trees and decorative lighting get plugged in electric bills go up. The exact amount the bills will increase depends on the lighting you choose and how you plan to use the lighting. Being aware of this extra use can help prevent a budget busting bill in a season that is already known for breaking the budget. How do you plan to manage your electricity this Christmas season?

In an attempt to keep electric bills low many users will substitute a lamp or a light for a Christmas tree. While the lighting may not be as bright the mood is definitely more seasonal. The question then becomes how does my Christmas tree compare to a regular lamp? How much extra am I paying? The answer to that question varies on multiple items. Are the bulbs on your Christmas tree standard or LED? How many strands of lights does your tree have? Another item coming into play in terms of electricity bills are fireplaces. Acquiring firewood is not the only expense accompanied with a fireplace; an opened flue can equal the same amount of heat loss as an open window. Having a fire in the fireplace, with the Christmas tree lit up and Christmas music playing may create a great mood now, but what type of mood will it create when the bill arrives? It may leave you feeling more like Scrooge than Saint Nick.

Changing your Christmas lights to LED, making sure the flue is closed after each fire and only playing Christmas tunes when someone is around to listen, and not just as background music 24/7, may greatly reduce your electric bill. Another item to consider is Christmas light rationing. Some lights get left on 24/7, having them on a switch or in an area that can be turned off easily can make a huge difference. Becoming aware of how much energy your Christmas decorations are using can supply the extra incentive to make sure the lights are turned off, the music is not always playing and the flue gets shut.

The home energy monitor allows users to see exactly how much energy they are currently using in their homes. This helps prevent Scrooge from arriving when the electric bill comes in the mail. If your Christmas tree is using an excessive amount of electricity consider lessening the amount of bulbs, or if you haven’t already, switch to LED. If you plan to substitute the tree for a lamp you can use the home energy monitor to make sure this is a fair trade. It is possible that your tree is using more than the lamp and not even supplying close to the amount of light! Being able to see exactly how much money the lights are costing you will offer the incentives needed to cut back or turn off.

Higher Prices Arrive Spring 2011

As Deregulation grows closer in the PECO market some things may remain unclear when it comes to judging prices. The first question is how much am I currently paying? PECO offers a “price to compare” which gives customers a price to use for comparison between the current prices and an alternate supplier. In addition to offering their current price they also list the future price at the beginning of next year, when deregulation officially kicks in. As with most utility bill pricing there can be some confusion. The current rate is calculated from two charges, generation and transmission, and is 9.94 cents per kWh, the rate at the beginning of the year will be 9.92 cents per kWh for three combined charges. At first glance this appears to be a great price decrease! Don’t get excited just yet, things will change in the future.

To begin a new charge will be added to your PECO bill. This charge is being labeled as an Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) fee which will remain consistent at .12 cents per kWh. The three fees now combined to make your total charge are the AEPS, Generation and transmission fees. The other distribution related fees will remain consistent regardless of the supplier. The price to compare is the combined total of the three fees. The rates will change regularly, depending on the season. The estimated rates for April 1 - June 30 are 10.16 for below 500 kWh used and 11.40 for above 500 kWh used. For the same time period last year the rate was 6.92 for under 500 kWh consumed, that equals an estimated increase of 31.9%! This is even larger than the close to 30% increase PPL customers saw a year earlier.

What does this mean for the average consumer? It means that momentarily your electric rates may get slightly lower, even with the addition of a new fee, which at first seems great. But be weary of the impending summer. Electric rates will generally fluctuate as heating season ends and air conditioning begins, this year looks to be a real shocker.

Thanks to the new deregulated system you do not have to stand for the drastic increase. You have the ability to pick your electric supplier. One example for PECO customers is Viridian Energy. Viridian prides itself in saving consumers money over the course of the year. They currently boast $35.56 a month in savings for customers in the United Illuminating district. The ability of PECO customers to sign up for Viridian started November 22. The sign up is hassle free and only requires an account number from your current utility bill. There are no contracts or sign up fees. The only thing you stand to lose is your money in the form of higher electric bills.

What Does Green Mean to You?

The term green can mean something completely different depending on who you ask. Some will describe green as recycling or conservation, some will speak of the environment and others will talk about construction and building materials. Each company seems to carry a different standard in terms of being green. While changing all of your lighting to high-efficiency bulbs may be considered green many companies seek a certification saying it is before they make the claim. This only multiplies the mass confusion by adding dozens of sustainability indexes and certifications. One thing remains constant between corporate guidelines, sustainability indexes or government regulation; a certain amount of measurement or verification must take place.

There are multiple government guidelines including Energy Star and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program which each require multiple efficient or environmentally friendly upgrades. Adding to the guidelines are the many popular sustainability indexes, many of which rely on the measurements and verifications used in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). There are even indexes focusing only on major corporations, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In addition to these indexes and guidelines many companies are also forming their own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals or indexes with a focus on sustainability or being green. It doesn’t stop here; utility companies that offer incentives often use the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol for their measurements. With the barrage of multiple guidelines, measurements and regulations how do you find a tool that allows you to keep track of, and benchmark against, the exact regulations and codes you wish to use?

The Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) allows you to benchmark against the exact building standards, sustainability index or guidelines that you wish. It has the ability to track your efforts towards meeting a CSR goal, green certification or other initiative. Each CEMO system is programmed specifically to meet your needs. This can even include budgets or historic usage as a baseline. Whatever figure you wish to measure yourself against the CEMO system has the capability to use. With so many different guidelines and standards it is easy to get lost in mountains of paperwork. CEMO takes the hassle out of measuring your efforts by providing quick and simple web-based dashboards that update your results in real-time. The faster you can see your exact measurements and results the sooner you can make changes to accrue success quicker and less expensively.