Optimal Monitoring: top 10 energy saving tips

Saving energy is simple. Saving energy without reducing the quality of your output or the comfort of your employees and/or customers is a bit trickier but is very achievable. We are happy to share best practice that we’ve learnt from dealing with literally thousands of sites and customers in the 10 years that we’ve been providing one of the industry’s best automated energy management targeting and monitoring products.

Check your bills for variations in consumption. If energy consumed varies from one month to the next there should be an obvious reason why. If there isn’t then it’s probably being wasted. Don’t always assume it is down to the weather.
Measure everything. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It’s that simple. This might mean identifying the high consumption areas of your business and submetering those so that you can get accurate data on what is being used in specific areas. This means you can use the data to ask the question ‘why?’ as in point 1 above. This doesn’t mean measuring down to the kettle’s output but do ensure you have a complete picture to avoid making assumptions.
Collect all your data in one place. You own your consumption data even though it is provided by the utility companies that supply it. They have a statutory duty to make it available to you but without sullying anyone’s name, it isn’t really in their interest for you to reduce consumption. Expect them to be helpful but only up to a point. Get all your data onto an independent platform where you can manipulate it and ask those questions on a timescale that suits you, not your suppliers. Remember you will be using energy much longer than the contract with your current supplier, so make sure to take your data with you when you change provider, to track your use over time..
Automate the management of your data. That sounds tricky, but it isn’t. If you’ve followed points 1 to 3 above, you are now in possession of a lot of data across several utilities. To try and manage this manually, on a spreadsheet, could take forever. There are some simple but very powerful tools on the market – and yes, we provide what we think is the best of them. These will help you make short work of controlling the data without any specific technical knowledge, so that you can spend your time better deciding what to do with it.
Look for the low hanging fruit. For example, if you can see water consumption when the building is empty you’ve almost certainly got a leak somewhere, or perhaps a valve that isn’t shutting off. Water is only used when people are in the building so if Saturday and Sunday are showing water consumption when the building is closed there is unnecessary use somewhere. Equally, if you see a spike of gas at three in the morning, it probably means that a boiler control is out of sync. There will be lots of little things like this that you’ll be able to fix quickly because using energy monitoring software to compare all of your data to previous periods or to a 90-day rolling average, you’ll see anomalies quickly and clearly.
Nothing is more efficient than stuff turned off. All those little red lights and screensavers humming away in the background are each like an old-fashioned 40W lightbulb burning, and cumulatively they use a lot of energy. Equally, heating the building until everyone leaves means it remains hot for an hour or so after the last person has left. Turning the heating off an hour earlier (although not when it’s minus 5 outside!!) will mean that the building cools down slowly, nobody will notice, and you will save 1 hour of gas multiplied by 260 working days a year.
Involve everyone in energy-saving responsibility. It shouldn’t be something that one person imposes on others. Just as we are all responsible for not losing money in the business we are all responsible (both environmentally and corporately) for not wasting energy. People will change their behaviour if they understand the reason why, and if it’s not to their detriment.
Communicate. Put up displays in staff and customer areas showing energy being used. You should be able to do that on a big A++ rated TV screen from the data that is being held in your automated measurement system and it can be presented in a very understandable way, e.g. translate the energy used today, in real time, to an equivalent number of kettles boiled or cups of tea made.
Take full advantage of government schemes that, in effect, provide free cash for you to make your building more energy-efficient, e.g. Salix if you’re in the public sector, or through energy grants if you are not. We all complain that governments, of every persuasion, do little or nothing for us. Energy efficiency is one area where central and local government can be and are quite helpful. See https://www.salixfinance.co.uk or https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/ faqs/services/grants/ for more detail.
Don’t do it alone. There are several organisations where energy consumers (e.g. MEUC) or suppliers (e.g. ESTA) get together and share best practice and innovative thought, at an industry level. Whilst members of these organisations are all competitive at the company level there is a point at which they come together for the best interest of all involved in providing energy management services and those who are using them.

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