If you’re like most organizations, your energy management initiatives are supported by utility data. This usually requires collecting, analyzing, and understanding energy consumption and costs at a monthly bill level. And while bill data is a logical place to start because it’s readily accessible, it has its limitations.
Take a packaged food manufacturer as an example. If the business wants to reduce energy costs, it could choose to shift energy-intensive operations, such as processing food, to off-peak hours. However, the energy manager wouldn’t be able to ascertain the peak hours or monitor usage to ensure that activities remain during off-peak hours with monthly bill data alone. The manufacturer needs interval data to understand its consumption, day by day and hour by hour.
According to the GSA Knowledge Network, the ability of smart meters to capture more granular interval data can lead to savings as high as 45%. However, none of these benefits can be realized without a reliable method of accessing utility interval data. Let’s look at the options available in the industry today.
Each access channel has its own pros and cons:
- Green Button is free and user-friendly, but still has far to go in terms of utility coverage with only 13 utilities on board, not all of which provide interval data.
- Utilities may offer proprietary and commercial systems that provide visualization and reporting tools in addition to data, but formats aren’t standardized among different providers and may require significant manual work to incorporate into energy management programs.
- Submeter installations provide the most granularity and control, as well as real-time data, but require substantial up-front capital expense and ongoing maintenance.
- Finally, data services leverage data from existing smart meters and automate data collection directly from utility providers. A utility interval data service provides broad utility coverage without up-front hardware or software implementation costs.
With the right access channel, you can utilize utility interval data to enhance your energy management program in a number of ways. Here are four ways your energy management program can get a strategic boost from utility interval data:
–Peak demand reduction
Peak demand charges claim a significant portion of overall energy bills, accounting for as much as 40 percent of charges in some cases. Utility interval data, even when delayed by a day, can identify trends and anomalies that provide the necessary insight to effectively reduce energy loads.
This is a procedure that makes changes to building operations based on actual operations, not a preset schedule. Using this model to observe detailed energy use trends down to the 15-minute interval over time can help identify underperforming buildings and assets in order to direct maintenance efforts toward those issues.
–Monitoring of energy retrofits
Energy efficiency projects remain a high priority for many organizations, but validating the savings of these projects by quantifying the return on investment often proves challenging. Interval data captured by smart meters allows for more detailed monitoring of buildings, which can lead to more detailed savings calculations after retrofit projects are completed.
–Actionable intelligence on overall energy use
By providing more timely and detailed information, smart meters offer actionable intelligence that can help reduce overall energy use. For example, a smart meter might reveal high loads continuing throughout evening hours Monday through Thursday, but not Friday through Sunday, indicating that equipment is being left on overnight.
Many organizations may understand be the potential benefits available through utility interval data, but simply haven’t taken the first step to take advantage of it. In the meantime, they’re missing out on a valuable method of increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs. With all of the options for data access available today, energy managers have more options available to advance their energy management program than ever before.
By Matt Kuo, VP of Product Management, Urjanet