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.
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.
Massachusetts Receives a Discount for Saving Energy
There are multiple programs currently available stressing the importance of energy efficiency and conservation. Many of these programs offer incentives for purchasing efficient equipment, weatherization or renewable energy upgrades. The Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) decided to take a new approach. They started a program known as the Western Mass Saves program, for now it is still a pilot program. The program offers incentives in the form of discounts on groceries, food, at local stores and on clothing. The utility users are given points for joining the program and for each kWh they save. The more you reduce your consumption the more points you receive and the more money you save. In addition to the point incentives the utility is also encouraging friendly competition between communities. The community that lowers their reduction the most receives a prize in the form of a small solar panel on a community building.
WMECo’s incentive plan comes as a rough winter season approaches for Massachusetts. During the winter months energy bills have the potential to rise considerably. At this point the pilot program is trying to be conservation aiming for a low 3% in savings. Since the program is still in its pilot phase they only plan to offer it to a few of the utility’s customers. If you find yourself in one of the elected communities you may be faced with the desire to lower your electric consumption as much as possible in order to gain points and allow your community to win. A home energy monitor may give you an extra edge in this competition and win you extra points.
The home energy monitor has the ability to help users lower their electric consumption by 6-18%. Simply having the knowledge of your consumption can help you reduce it. Using the energy monitor you can find and stop waste, or use it to reduce wasteful habits that result in added unneeded energy consumption. Since the utility is rewarding you to reduce your consumption the motivation to save is substantial. Not only will you see the savings in the form of a lower electric bill you will also receive points for discounts in other areas. Don’t stop at a mere 3%, aim higher and receive a little help from a home energy monitor.
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.
The Power of Knowledge
One of the best ways to lowering your energy consumption and costs is to eliminate waste and unnecessary use. Using a whole building energy monitoring system allows you to see two things very clearly, your base load and spikes. A base load is the electricity that is always on. There are some devices that may draw electricity 24/7; although these devices may be small their combined affect is significant. One user contributed 33% of his use to his base load. Another item to note is the spikes. Spikes occur when large items cycle or turn on. An example would be a furnace or HVAC unit, machinery, dryer, microwave or other large devices. If you are running a business a common spike will be when employees come into work and turn on their computers or other devices. Using the information from monitoring your energy you can reduce your usage and costs in two ways, attacking the base load and the spikes.
Monitoring will allow you to see your base load in real-time. This gives you the ability to make an informed decision and to see the effects instantly. The best way to manage a base load is to make sure it is as low as possible when a building is not occupied or at night. To do this you need to find the devices that draw energy 24/7. Even simple things like a porch light being left on all day can make a huge difference. Once your consumption base load has been reduced to its bare minimum you can use the energy monitor to assure yourself that it is at this minimum each night before you go to bed or before you leave the building. This especially becomes important for facilities over the weekend when the building is not in use.
The second way to reduce your consumption with energy monitoring is in the area of spikes. For facilities controlling peaks has a lot more application then at home. Commercial buildings are charged peak demand charges, because of this knowing exactly when your electricity peaks and managing those peaks can mean the difference of thousands of dollars. At home, and at a commercial building, it can also be an indication of how those large devices are working. An inefficient device will use far more electricity than an efficient device. If the peaks and spikes are higher than they should be consider repairing or replacing the device.
Real-time energy monitoring gives you the information needed to make informed decisions. It also gives you the peace of mind to know that everything is off and that you are saving the most money over the weekends or overnight. Having a device that allows you to view historic data will also help you narrow in on items that are turning on in the middle of the night or excessively cycling when not in use. There are many different benefits from having real-time information. The power of knowledge can never be under estimated.
The Best First Step Towards Improved Efficiency
Every energy consumer has various and different reasons for seeking energy efficiency improvements within their home or business. What motivates one person may not be of any interest to another. The five main concerns that bring awareness to the need to improve are saving money, comfort issues, a health concern, carbon footprint or an incentive program. Knowing what to do next becomes the biggest problem. There are many different programs available, all of which boast success. There are many ways of going about achieving savings and many ways to throw your money away on unneeded improvements if you are not careful. Regardless of the method you choose you should be able to track the success in the amount of savings you receive or through a reduction in your energy consumption.
The prospect of being taken for a trip by a fast talking salesman is always in the back of the average consumers mind. The average electric bill arrives 30-45 days after the fact; a lot can happen in that amount of time. If you are planning on undertaking any energy efficiency, home improvement, home or building performance or energy management project you need to make sure you have a way to measure and verify the results. A simple utility bill will not supply enough information to draw an accurate conclusion. The solution comes in the form of real-time information by utilizing energy monitoring.
An energy monitor has the ability to display real-time energy consumption and costs. Having real-time information allows you to measure and verify results instantly. Real-time energy information can also help you dial in on specific areas that need improvement. Once you have pin-pointed the needed improvements energy monitoring will let you know if it was successful at lowering your consumption instantly, not 30-45 days later.
Before you undertake any major efficiency or improvement project you should begin monitoring your energy consumption. Without real-time energy information trying to improve your energy consumption is similar to attempting to paint a portrait in the dark, you may get something, but it won’t be pretty. Lord Kelvin, who completed important mathematical calculations on electricity said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot control it.” The best first step in taking control of your energy costs is real-time measurement.
The Power of Real-time
Energy consumers are constantly making sacrifices to avoid large bills. A common sacrifice is lowering the temperature in the winter and raising the temperature in the summer. You may be a little cold or hot but your bills will be more manageable. Unfortunately most of these sacrifices are made blindly. The average utility bill will come 30-45 days after the fact. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to conserve energy and sacrificing comfort only to receive an energy bill that is higher than normal. Once you receive the bill there is no way to know what caused it; when you receive a larger bill it is very easy to quickly discredit your efforts as worthless.
Without a way to directly measure the results of your efforts it is easy to become discouraged. With the continued growth of the internet our society has become one where we expect instant results. At the snap of a finger, thanks to modern streaming technology, you don’t even need to leave the house to watch your favorite movie anymore. At the click of a button you can watch a movie directly from your cable provider or instantly from a subscription movie service. A common example of the speed we are used to today is the U.S postal service. The USPS has been called many things over the years, but a common nickname has become “snail mail”. The average letter reaches its destination in only a few days, yet this is considered snail mail. On average we wait 30-45 days to receive our utility readings. If a few days are considered the rate of a snail what animal could this be compared to?
If you are tired of receiving a monthly utility bill and cringing before you open it because you are wondering what the damage is, or if you want to be able to measure and verify the results of your energy efficiency or conservation efforts as they are happening, then you need something a little faster than the speed of the Guinness record holding slowest animal on earth, the three toed sloth, otherwise known as, your utility bill.
A home energy monitor is a device that reads energy consumption in real-time and displays it for users to see. Some of these monitors can be very complex and expensive, others are simple and easy to install and don’t even require electrical wiring. The difference depends on the application. For the common user something simple and easy to install works fine. The Envi, for example, not only shows real-time information in kWhs it also allows user to enter their exact rates and will calculate the current cost of their bill. The device records not only the kWh and rate it will also record the time of use and the current indoor temperature. This information is all very useful when it comes to seeing your conservation efforts. If you lower the temperature the Envi will record this, it will also record exactly how much it decreased your use and exactly how much it saved you. In a time when a few days is considered slow why wait 30-45 days? Receive the information now, in real-time, while you can still use it.