Management of energy is often neglected, even though there is considerable potential to save energy and reduce costs. Rising energy prices, climate change legislation and the need to be environmentally responsible all require effective energy management.
For many businesses a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales. Furthermore, 25% of energy consumption can be saved with relatively little or no cost and no significant changes in practice.
Energy management is the use of technology to improve the energy performance of an organisation. To be fully effective it needs to be an integral part of an organisation’s wider management processes – and any corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy.
Energy audits have proven to be effective tools in helping managers understand and take control of the way their commercial facilities use energy. They are also valuable in determining the steps to make that use more efficient.
The key to the effectiveness of an energy audit is in the data it generates — in particular; how much is used, when, where and why is it used and what is using the energy. Before we can reduce energy use we must have accurate answers to these questions.
Copious amounts of data generated by a comprehensive energy audit will do nothing to reduce the energy use in a facility. Greater energy efficiency will only be achieved when managers or an energy management specialist collects, interprets and analyses the data and then uses this to formulate an action plan.
The action plan should identify energy reduction opportunities, implementation costs and the economic benefits to the organisation.
Energy audits come in different levels of complexity. At Energy Gain UK our simplest is the EnMS1 audit. This audit focuses on those low cost and no cost measures that can be easily implemented, but provide an immediate energy reduction and cost saving.
The EnMS1 audit starts with an examination of at least one year’s worth of data on energy use and cost. Energy auditors review utility bills to identify costs and rate structures to identify where savings can be made.
The auditor then identifies operational and maintenance measures that can be implemented without the need for a significant capital investment. EnMS1 audits are a good starting point for any commercial facility, but are most useful in smaller facilities.
An EnMS2 audit expands on the data collected in the EnMS1. The energy auditor identifies the key energy-using systems and quantifies their energy use. The additional data gathered is used to identify additional energy reduction measures including modifications and upgrades to energy-using systems.
EnMS1 and EnMS2 tend to have the greatest benefit for small facilities, helping them to get the highest rate of return.
The EnMS3 audit provides a more detailed analysis of a facility’s energy usage which can involve sub-metering on energy-using systems.
The EnMS3 audits are best suited to more complex facilities which have a larger number of energy-using systems and have a strong need to reduce energy use.
Gathering energy use data is important, but it is only the first step in gaining control over energy usage. The data generated by an energy audit needs to be analysed and interpreted. For example, a year’s worth of data on energy use will tell managers the amount of energy used and when the facility used it. It does not tell managers the reason for its use or what can be done to control and minimize it.
Energy reduction specialists and managers can use benchmarking to help solve this issue. By identifying similar facilities — in terms of construction and operations — and comparing energy use in those facilities on the basis of use per square foot, energy benchmarking can be achieved.
If the target facility’s energy use is higher than that of the benchmark use, energy reduction specialists can look for reasons. Is equipment older and less efficient? Is energy being used when the facility is unoccupied, is equipment being used inefficiently? Benchmark data offers a good starting point in providing an idea of the potential savings that can be achieved.
Demand change is an area that energy reduction specialists will analyse. The data can also be used to identify trends and seasonal variations in energy loads. The energy reduction specialist will then investigate what is causing the trend and see if any of those loads can be moved to off-peak hours to reduce the electricity-demand charge.
In order to get the most out of an energy audit, energy reduction specialists or managers must extend the process beyond simply gathering and analysing data. The energy audit is an on-going process that requires consistent support.
Energy reduction specialists or managers must ensure that the database of energy use information is maintained and updated regularly. The process also must include recording changes the organisation makes to building occupancy and energy-using systems.
They also must monitor energy data to detect any unusual use rates and costs, for example equipment malfunction or building occupants leaving equipment on-line when it is not needed or even leaks occurring. Monitoring energy use and costs data regularly helps identify discrepancies that result from these unplanned situations.
Energy reduction specialists can use the data to train staff and building occupants in ways to improve the facility’s overall energy efficiency. When occupants and department staff understand the energy and financial consequences of their actions, they are more likely to become willing participants in the facility’s energy strategies.
Finally, energy reduction specialists or managers can use the data to promote an energy-reduction program. Reducing energy use requires a commitment of both time and money. Personnel must be responsible for energy-conservation tasks. Projects to replace existing equipment with more efficient units require a capital investment.
Presenting the data collected and analysed in the energy-audit program can help managers improve the odds of obtaining the necessary funding to operate and expand the program.
To discuss how an Energy Audit could help you save energy and reduce costs call 0161 339 9685 or email email@example.com.
At Energy Gain UK we are energy reduction specialists who apply a rigorous engineering approach, starting with energy auditing and profiling, leading methodically through to design, construction and monitoring procedures that are uncompromising. Over the last 8 years, we have developed a strong client base across a variety of sectors. To find out more visit energygain.co.uk