Four steps to understanding energy management

Kerry Hamilton, head of energy & environment for Inprova Energy, explains how to identify and understand the factors that drive energy use, and how to prepare for changes as your organisation develops.

It is always a challenge when attempting to monitor and analyse energy use. This includes establishing a baseline consumption pattern for ‘normal’ weather, ‘normal’ production processes or occupancy levels, and ‘average’ energy wastage.

This provides a starting point to understand any variances in consumption patterns and enables you to plan an energy strategy. It will also prove invaluable in informing your choices at supply contract renewal times.

There are four steps to improve understanding of your organisation’s energy use:

1. Review historic energy consumption trends. Make use of all available historic meter data to provide a visual representation of energy consumption trends. If there are weekly, seasonal or other trends for your organisation, these should begin to be apparent. Collect data to establish the ‘shape’ of your consumption; is it smooth or ‘spiky’? Are the spikes in your energy consumption during high charging periods? Is a machine being left on over the weekend? Use your data to create a graph of your energy consumption, which should plot consumption against production, occupancy or any other variable. From this, you can identify the line of best fit to establish your baseline.

2. Understand the factors that drive energy use. For most organisations, variations in energy use are likely to fall into a number of categories: • production/activity - changes in production output, shift patterns, or occupancy levels, etc. will affect energy usage patterns directly or indirectly.

Comparing usage across similar sites and looking at usage changes after efficiency awareness campaigns can often reveal the human factors at play within your organisation. In addition, it can be used to measure the effects of restricting employee behaviour, such as installing light sensors or having maximum or minimum temperatures that can be reached.

3. Identify and respond to consumption outside normal tolerances. Having reached the stage where you have developed an understanding of your ‘normal’ energy consumption patterns and have a rough view of how factors such as production, occupancy, behaviour and seasonality influence these, you are ready to get involved in the ‘detective’ work!

4. Use accurate monitoring of energy consumption to inform your future energy strategy.  Understanding energy consumption patterns is invaluable in developing strategic energy plans, as well as informing contract renewal choices and improving bill validation. It can also help consumers move energy load away from peak charging hours, and potentially get paid for entering the capacity market.

To read the full article see the latest July/August edition of EiBI by registering for free here.

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