Be pound poor and become Penny rich

Energy management is and should be perceived as a long-term investment by organizations. Having said this, the need for all organizations to implement energy management strategies now cannot be overstated as these strategies will save their costs of running the business in future.

Many organizations may shy off from implementing energy efficiency measures in place opting to save the associated costs or to use the cash for other projects that may be perceived as high priority in the short run. This is most likely to occur when cost cutting is a priority. Long-term planning is however critical for energy efficiency programs. Taking steps to improve building management and energy efficiency will and does pay dividends in the near-term and may be a competitive tool in the long-term.

Be energy smart
All energy management projects begin with being energy smart which calls for the understanding of energy usage. Use of Smart Meters that give real time readings of energy usage, can dramatically help businesses understand the benefit which energy management brings to the organization.

Smart meters also cut the amount of time businesses spend on administration by allowing them to pay accurate bills, based on accurate readings. Some suppliers also support businesses to identify areas of energy wastage/inefficiency and help setting targets for energy reduction that guide behavioral change with regard to energy in the organization.

Use of technologies that record the energy usage at the water or electricity meters putting data into a system where the users can graph it has made it easy to compare energy consumption in various departments, sites or buildings. Appropriate measures can then be implemented to improve the efficiency.

Partnerships between businesses and energy suppliers
Since the long-term benefits of reduced energy consumption is beneficial to both suppliers and consumers; the responsibility of managing energy consumption is being taken by both. Businesses should work with the suppliers on cost reduction strategies through identifying areas where energy is being wasted and advising businesses on how to save energy. Of key importance when choosing an energy supplier therefore is their depth of understanding of a business’ energy management needs.

Capitalize on government incentives
Businesses should always explore varied financing mechanisms for their energy efficiency programs e.g. government schemes generating electricity and selling it to the grid.

Measure it to manage it with smart meters

Measure it to manage it. This saying applies perfectly to energy management. Effectively managing energy use is virtually impossible with unreliable measurement devices in place or worse still, no measurements at all. Smart meters are a smart way to measure energy and water usage giving you more control over the amount of energy or water usage.

Smart energy meters:
Smart meters are indeed a smart way to get insight into your energy use which brings more security and a better environment. They can also enable you to get Smart Energy Reports that are a personalized guide to energy efficiency.

Other benefits of smart meters:
• You are able to generate simple graphs and charts showing you where you use your energy and money
• Consumption of gas and electricity is broken down. This implies that one can be able to view their spending at a glance
• Smart meters track consumption on a monthly basis enabling you to compare your own consumption against other similar households.
• By tracking energy consumption and spending over time, one can be able to view the history and assess the impact of their energy efficiency measures over a particular period.

Smart water meters:
Smart meters are not only used for measuring energy use, they are also used to measure water usage efficiency. Water efficiency is essential for management of sustainable water resources.
Water resources have been diminishing over time posing a challenge for water users and water suppliers to seriously look for ways to manage water efficiency. The need for accurate, adequate and reliable measurement and monitoring practices of water consumption in organizations can therefore not be overlooked.

Timely collection and analysis of water use data, and relaying this data in a timely manner to the water user, can result in significant changes in water use behavior. Other benefits include instant detection of areas where water wastage is occurring e.g. leakages hence action is taken to save water. Similar to energy data, water data collected by smart metering systems is also vital in designing water efficiency and recycling systems as well as the improvement of demand management policies and programs.

The use of smart meters to monitor water consumption enables users to analyse, and interpret the data collected. This feedback enables users to change their behaviors.

Uncover hidden opportunities with energy data analytics

What springs to mind when you hear the words energy data analytics? To me, I feel like energy data analytics is not my thing. Energy data analytics, however, is of great importance to any organization or business that wants to run more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase productivity. Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to accomplish these goals.

Energy efficiency is not about investment in expensive equipment and internal reorganization. Enormous energy saving opportunities is hidden in already existing energy data. Given that nowadays, energy data can be recorded from almost any device, a lot of data is captured regularly and therefore a lot of data is readily available.

Organizations can use this data to convert their buildings’ operations from being a cost center to a revenue center through reduction of energy-related spending which has a significant impact on the profitability of many businesses. All this is possible through analysis and interpretation of data to predict future events with greater accuracy. Energy data analytics therefore is about using very detailed data for further analysis, and is as a consequence, a crucial aspect of any data-driven energy management plan.

The application of Data and IT could drive significant cost savings in company-owned buildings and vehicle fleets. Virtual energy audits can be performed by combining energy meter data with other basic data about a building e.g. location, to analyze and identify potential energy savings opportunities. Investment in energy dashboards can further enable companies to have an ongoing look at where energy is being consumed in their buildings, and thus predict ways to reduce usage, not to mention that energy data analytics unlock savings opportunities and help companies to understand their everyday practices and operating requirements in a much more comprehensive manner.

Using energy data analytics can enable an organization to: determine discrepancies between baseline and actual energy data; benchmark and compare previous performance with actual energy usage. Energy data analytics also help businesses and organizations determine whether or not their Building Management System (BMS) is operating efficiently and hitting the targeted energy usage goals. They can then use this data to investigate areas for improvement or energy efficient upgrades. When energy data analytics are closely monitored, companies tend to operate more efficiently and with better control over relevant BMS data.

Big energy data management

Recent times have seen the advent of cloud based services and solutions where energy data is being stored in the cloud and being accessed from anywhere, anytime through remote mobile devices. This has been made possible by web-based systems that can usually bring real-time meter-data into clear view allowing for proactive business and facility management decisions. Some web based systems may even support multi utility metering points and come in handy for businesses operating multiple sites.

Whereas all this has been made possible by increased use of smart devices/ intelligent energy devices that capture data at more regular intervals; the challenge facing businesses is how to transform the large data/big volume of data into insights and action plans that would translate into increased performance in terms of increased energy efficiency or power reliability.

A solution to this dilemma facing businesses that do not know how to process big energy data, may lie in energy management software. Energy management software’s have the capability to analyze energy consumption for, electricity, gas, water, heat, renewables and oil. They enable users to track consumption for different sources so that consumers are able to identify areas of inefficiency and where they can reduce energy consumption, Energy software also helps in analytics and reporting. The analytics and reporting features that come with energy software are usually able to:
• Generate charts and graphs – some software’s give you an option to select from different graphs.
• Do graphical comparisons e.g. generate graphs of the seasonal average for the same season and day type
• Generate reports that are highly customizable

While choosing from the wide range of software available, it is important for businesses to consider software that has the capacity to support their data volume, software that can support the frequency with which their data is captured and support the data accuracy or reliability.
Energy software alone may not make the magic happen. Businesses may need to invest in trained human resources in order to realize the best value from their big energy data. Experts in energy management would then apply human expertise to leverage the data and analyze it with proficiency to make it meaningful to one’s business.

The Future is Smarter with a Smart Meter

Traditionally, electricity and water meter consumption was measured via analogue meters. Utility billing was based on actual consumption units obtained from the meter by meter readers. This entailed physical visits to the metering point. Lots of challenges came with meter reading; talk of customers feeling their privacy is intruded, meter readers encountering hostile customers, dogs, closed gates. The result was estimated bills that were most often than not very high.

Smart meters can be dubbed as the “next generation” type of meters. Smart meters send wireless electronic meter readings to one’s energy supplier automatically. There are both gas smart meters and electricity smart meters. Smart meters come with in-home displays, which give someone real-time feedback on their energy usage and the associated cost.

Smart meters communicate meter readings directly to utility companies therefore no one has to come to your home to read your meter; and neither are you required to submit meter readings yourself. This not only reduces costs, but leads to more accurate electricity bills practically eliminating estimated bills. Smart meters signal the end of estimated bills, and the end of overpaying  or underpaying for energy.

Whereas a smart meter in itself does not save you money, the add-ons (in-home displays) that come with the smart meters and which give someone real-time feedback on their energy usage helps them to reduce the unnecessary energy use and this ultimately leads to better oversight into how to lower utility bills hence better management of one’s energy use.

In summary, a smart meter is a technology that enables energy consumers to see their energy as they use it, a technology where energy is displayed as it is being used and wireless ratings sent. Adoption of smart meters would mean the end of estimated energy bills.

Smart meters are also promising a smart future where all energy consuming devices can be connected to the internet and centrally controlled using computers or smartphones. This means one is able to switch off lights and other energy consuming devices from a central point, hence make savings and this will enable them to have greater control of their energy use, hence more comfort, convenience and life will be cheaper for all. This is the smarter future we are all looking forward to.

Renewable energy – Is it a common man’s cup of tea?

I came across this article on a young graduate in renewable energy engineering. The fellow was doing technical sales and marketing jobs for renewable energy products though he felt that as a graduate, he ought to be doing more than just sales. His, sentiments, I can relate with but again thinking about the field of renewable energy, how many people understand what it is, its importance/ benefits, how to acquire it, its installation, costs etc.?

Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources. The renewable energy sources include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, geothermal heat and various forms of biomass. These sources are renewable naturally and continuously replenished, therefore this energy cannot be exhausted.
Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity/micro hydro, biomass and biofuels for transportation.

Back to the aspiring young professional who felt that his place in the renewable energy sector lies in doing strategies and coming up with new products-the advice fronted to him was that doing technical sales is the best job for engineers, as it helps them impact on users of their products. Sales entail interacting with customers and knowing their needs so that the product features can be enhanced to suit the customer’s needs. Now, that is brilliant and accurate advice. It is however important to take into consideration that renewable energy is not a common man’s cup of tea and right now the focus all over the world is to build green economies.

To me the need for more and more people to understand the benefits, savings and cost of renewable energy cannot be overemphasized. Effort should be made to keep marketing of renewable energy products/ services simple and conversational by avoiding use of acronyms or jargons explaining about operational details. More impact can be made if a marketing rather than technical sales approach is used. Technical sales have been described as boring (can be used as a sleeping aid), tends to use extensive vocabulary, jargon and acronyms that product users cannot relate with and tends to discuss the products technical aspects as opposed to the benefits to the customer. Fun should be created out of all this by making things simple and demonstrating cost savings and benefits of renewable energy.

How to be cleaner and greener indoors

The supply of water on planet earth is finite hence the need to conserve this precious resource. Water is a utility that is often used in and outdoors and for that reason, water conservation activities should be undertaken everywhere.

Get greener everywhere
Water saving can be achieved through various ways. Of utmost importance, fixing leaks should be undertaken in all areas. Small household leaks can add up to gallons of water lost every day. It is therefore important to check all water system fixtures and ensure that there are no leakages.

Greener bathroom habits
Turning off taps- this should be practiced in the bathroom especially while shaving and brushing teeth. One could also consider using showers instead of baths since showers use less water and get into the habit of taking shorter showers.

Clean and green dishes
The kitchen is one of the areas where a lot of water is used. Some of the ways through which water can be conserved in the kitchen are:
– Use of basins when washing dishes by hand;
– Using a dishwasher – when using the dish washer, it is important to make sure it’s fully loaded. Scraping plates instead of rinsing before loading it into the dishwasher will also go a long way in the conservation of the valuable commodity called water.

Green your laundry and earn green bucks
The other area where water saving can be made is the laundry room. Washing only full loads of laundry will ensure that your washing machine is running at full efficiency hence you will be able to maximize your washer for energy efficiency. Always ensure you use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine. All these will not only save water but energy too and since savings are earnings you can smile all the way to the bank where some green bucks will be credited to your account.

Energy efficiency- succeed and benefit

Energy is neither created nor destroyed; it is only transformed. This being the law of conservation of energy, and given that the process of transforming energy is inefficient resulting in loss of usable energy in the process of transforming one form of energy into another form, Energy Efficiency finds a home.
Talking of Energy efficiency, think of how much useful energy can be obtained from a system or a particular technology. It is also about the use of technology that requires a lesser amount of energy to carry out the same task.

Energy efficiency is the responsibility of both demand side and supply side. Supply-side energy efficiency refers to a set of actions taken to ensure efficiency through the electricity supply chain. Supply side efficiency measures are about efficiency in electricity generation; be it operation and maintenance of existing equipment or upgrading existing equipment with state-of-the-art energy-efficient generating equipment.

The demand side energy efficiency on the other hand refers to the actions taken to use less/demand less energy. Think of less energy usage in relation to improvement of energy efficiency in buildings, solar water heaters, energy efficient lighting systems such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps, conducting energy audits to identify potential energy saving opportunities, efficient water heating systems and the list is endless.

Success of energy efficiency is a win – win to YOU-ME-US – the energy consumers, to THEM the energy producers and suppliers and to our precious ENVIRONMENT.
Gain to energy suppliers: – Less energy usage and better energy usage patterns among consumers consequently reduces the customer load which reduces losses on the supply side. Less energy loss creates capacity on the system to serve more customers.
Gain to you-me-us: – Less energy usage and better energy usage patterns Benefits the customer through reduced Electricity bills / $$$ savings through lower bills.
Benefits to the environment: – Usage of less energy reduces use of fossil fuels, hence reduction in GHG emissions hence conserving our environment. Companies look at means to make rational use of their least efficient generating equipment. The objective is to improve the operation and maintenance of existing equipment or upgrade it with state-of-the-art energy-efficient technologies. Some companies have on-site electricity generation alternatives and thus tend to consider the supply side in addition to demand-side energy efficiency.

ISO in Energy management

Every industry has its own set levels of quality that are considered acceptable or desirable. Energy performance like any other field is governed by some set standards. These differ across regions but international standards do exist.

ISO 50001 is the international energy standard applicable to both large and small organizations irrespective of geographical, cultural or social conditions. It outlines the best energy management practices that are considered to be the best by specifying that an organization must integrate an energy management system and institute an energy policy, objectives, targets, and action plans taking into account legal requirements and information related to significant energy use. The energy standard is applicable to organizations.

What’s the importance of attaining energy certification?
ISO certification in any industry is a demonstration of quality or that a service or product meets the expected service standards. In energy management, ISO certification is a demonstration that an organization or company has implemented sustainable energy management systems, completed a baseline of energy use and, is committed to continuously improve its energy performance. In addition, ISO certification assists organizations in the following ways:
• Organizations are able to optimize the existing energy-consuming assets.
• Offers guidance on benchmarking, measuring, documenting, and reporting energy intensity improvements and their projected impact on reducing GHG emissions.
• Creates transparency and facilitates communication on the management of energy resources.
• Promotes energy management best practices and reinforces good energy management behaviors.
• Assists facilities in evaluating and prioritizing the implementation of new energy-efficient technologies.
• Provides a framework for promoting energy efficiency throughout the supply chain.
• Facilitates energy management improvements in the context of GHG emission reduction projects: The reduction of carbon emissions means therefore an organization is able to meet government carbon reduction targets by demonstrating environmental credentials. The accruing benefits are many, ranging from increased investor confidence to more tender opportunities.

Energy management software plays a vital role in helping organizations comply with energy standards through improved performance across the various functions in an organization.

Can we do without that necessary evil called Water heater?

A colleague of mine had just received an enormous electricity bill and from her reaction, it was like her worst nightmare had just become a reality. She shared with us how she had some houseguests during the month and how they would take countless long hot showers making her articulate a house rule that no one should shower more than once each day.

I fit perfectly in her shoes and I believe that rule was warranted. In my own house, I have often caught myself doing mental correlations on the time a person spends in the shower and the electricity bill.

For people who may be suffering as a result of their energy bills; it is important to take measures towards reducing the amount of hot water used and increasing the efficiency of their hot water systems. The methods differ depending on the needs. It however, all starts with the type of water heater, fuel type used to heat water where options are available, the efficiency of the water heater (energy factor), and the water heater size relative to the institutions hot water demand.
For me, a low flow showerhead and spending less time in the shower save on hot water overuse. Institutions and homes with greater hot water usage could consider all these, regular maintenance of their water heating systems and much more.