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.
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.
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.
Stop the Bleeding in your Facility
The modern building is a sophisticated and complex structure. Even though they may look the same on the outside each is completely different on the inside. A facility, just like a person, has many complex interwoven parts. Ducts and HVAC systems make up the respiratory system, insulation is can be compared to muscle or fat keeping the body warm and water piping can be compared to the circulatory system. Although each building has the same parts no two buildings are exactly the same; correspondingly no two people are exactly the same as well. As soon as a building is occupied things begin to change at an unpredictable rate. Each tenant may occupy the space differently; some may abuse the structure, and not maintain it. The ecosystem where a building is located plays a substantial role as the different elements create wear and tear. A healthy building needs to be constantly maintained, just like a healthy person needs to regularly visit a doctor.
Larger buildings will generally have facility specialists, the doctors of the facility world; these specialists are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. Just like a doctor these facility specialists will have an area of concentration they prefer the most. Some will focus on water, some on natural gas and others on electricity. The facility specialist’s focus is generally dependent on their own personal interest or the geographical area they are in. A facility specialist in southern Texas may not focus much attention on heating, just like an athletic doctor may not focus much attention on making sure his patients are getting enough exercise.
Regardless of the specialty there are many tools in a doctor’s arsenal that will work regardless of the medical concentration. Stitches work for external, internal, dental and even cosmetic purposes to allow the body to heal. A similar system is available to the facility specialist in the form of the Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system. The CEMO system ties all the pieces together onto one easy to read web-based platform. It allows you to find and stop the energy or water that is bleeding from the facility. On the same platform you have the ability to view water, gas, electric and even renewable energy sources. Anything that can be metered can be monitored by the CEMO system. When dealing with something as complex as a facility you must have a tool that can combine everything into one easy to use platform. Using the CEMO system to stitch the holes in your system will result in more than saved energy; it will produce financial savings as well.
Employee Motivation and Energy Reduction
Every manager is faced with the daunting task of making sure employees stay motivated. Many factors come into play since no two people are exactly alike. What motivates one person may mean absolutely nothing to another. Motivated employees are the most productive. With all the various factors of money, time, vacations and other perks there is only one factor that is true for all employees; the only person that can motivate your employees are themselves.
Change is something that can have huge impacts on employee motivation. With everyone embarking on new energy systems and energy conservation guidelines there is plenty of potential of lowered motivation. Since the only person that has the ability to motivate your employees is themselves you must find ways for employees to want to save energy. In order to have success you must align the company’s goals with the employees’ goals. Focusing on a single area may work for some, but not for others. For instance, if you advertise that saving energy will make you “green” you may be appealing to some workers but others may be negatively affected. Since each person has a different motivation you are faced with the challenge of finding each individual unique driving force.
To foster employee motivation and involvement in energy reduction you must clearly connect how the employee’s actions affect the entire organization. In a large company of several hundred employees a single person may feel insignificant. Many companies will try to overcome this by placing motivational banners or focusing on individual groups. In terms of energy reduction you may need to take a larger approach. Putting a pithy saying on a banner and placing it where all can see will not foster motivation.
The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. With the Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system you can display for each employee, in real-time, how they affect the energy use for the entire building. The real-time graphs and charts will show exactly how the energy is being used. The company can place this information on kiosks, lunch room TVs or intranet sites. The CEMO system allows users to input baselines to allow employees to see when they have reached their goals or how far away the goals are. Being able to see the goal, the affects of their actions in real-time and exactly when they reach the goal will motivate employees to achieve success. Once the goals have been met have a celebration. A building by itself does not use energy, energy is used by those that occupy the building, and it is those occupants that can lower the energy reduction and in turn energy costs.
Combining Conservation and Efficiency
Saving energy comes in many shapes and forms. It presents itself in two ways, conservation and efficiency. Conservation is the act of turning off the lights when they aren’t in use or unplugging unused devices. Efficiency comes in many forms, and can include lighting, insulation, appliances and many other options. By itself each of these items has the potential to save some energy, but, used together efficiency and conservation can save an abundance of energy.
Efficiency and conservation alike have slogans that accompany them, pithy sayings such as, “Pull the plug on energy waste, saving is simple.” While it is true that you can save a considerable amount of energy and money by simply turning devices off or unplugging them completely you can save even more by combining this practice with energy efficiency. This offers a one two punch to your electricity. By utilizing the two you will begin using the least amount possible when the device is in use and none at all when it is not.
While it may be true that empty rooms love the dark they may also love CFLs or LEDs just as much. Buying products that have Energy Star labels ensures they are energy efficient, combining these products with the best conservation efforts ensures the most savings. Having an Energy Star rated TV may reduce your bill a little, but ensuring the TV is unplugged when not in use may save a lot. But what is the best way to tie energy efficiency and conservation together?
The home energy monitor allows users to observe their energy use habits. This allows them to pin-point exactly how to conserve more electricity or how to make the best energy efficiency purchase. Once you have discovered your habits you can begin to dial in on individual devices, this will help you find devices that can be more efficient. Discovering you leave the computer on and turning it off may be a great way to conserve, having the computer set itself to sleep mode is a great way to be efficient, having the computer go to sleep mode throughout the day and turning the computer completely off when it will not be used for eight hours is a great way to save a tremendous amount of energy and money. Combing conservation and efficiency is the best way to lower your energy use, and a home energy monitor can help you discover areas where you can conserve and become more efficient.
Energy Efficiency for Renters
Energy efficiency has been something targeted towards home owners; unfortunately, for a third of Americans who rent their homes many of these upgrades are out of reach. Although landlords may not mind if you make energy efficiency improvements the motivation to improve a rental is low, in addition some landlords may not even let their renters paint the walls. There are some improvements that can be made without a hassle, such as changing lights, but other weatherization improvements are out of reach. Some renters are so nervous about their security deposits they will not even hang pictures on the walls. The desire to increase energy efficiency is evident, in fact, according to a survey 86% of renters preferred or were looking for an eco-conscious apartment.
The exact set up of your apartment or rental home may greatly determine which energy efficiency improvements you may pursue. Installing new windows, insulation, HVAC systems, washer and dryers or appliances may be out of the question, but monitoring your electric consumption is still possible. In order to monitor your consumption in an apartment you need to find a system that does not require electric wiring and that is plausible for an apartment.
There are many different home energy monitors on the market, some of which require electrical wiring. If hanging a picture on your wall puts you at risk imagine what splicing wires can accomplish. Other options attach to the actual utility meter; in some apartments the meter may not be accessible, or too far away. The average meter attached monitoring devices only has a 60 foot range, on average you will need to subtract 10 foot for each wall, making this solution nearly impossible for some apartments. Utility companies greatly discourage the use of this type of device, since it attaches to the meter, which is the utilities property. The question becomes, how can a renter measure their electricity consumption without angering the utility company or a landlord?
The answer comes in the form of the Current Transformer or CT. The Envi home energy monitor utilizes the CT to monitor electric consumption without requiring wiring of any type. All that is required for the CT solution is access to an electrical panel, which is very common in an apartment. The system is very simple, the CT clamps over each of the main cables leading into the electrical panel. The most difficult part of the installation will be accessing the cables themselves. Accessing the cables involves unscrewing the electric panel, which can be screwed back in place and will not cause any damage to the apartment. While this is not for everyone, an electrician can be hired to quickly install the system. Why sacrifice saving money, energy efficiency or being green simply because you live in an apartment? Energy monitoring using the Envi is possible and plausible for renters.