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 personalised 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 organisations 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 behaviour. 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 behaviours.

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Will UK Retailers Skim the Cream with ESOS?

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) was quick out on the starting blocks with an ambitious plan to cut energy costs by 25% in 5 years. Their ?25-in-5? initiative is chasing a target of ?4.4 billion savings during the duration. Part of this program involves ?cutting a path through a complex and inaccessible policy landscape?. BRC believes this drawback is making its members think twice about making energy efficiency investments.

The UK?s sprawling network of grocers, department stores and malls is the nation?s second most hungry energy customer, having spent ?3.3 billion on it in 2013 when it accounted for almost 20% of carbon released. If you think that sounds bad, it purchased double that amount in 2005. However the consortium believes there is still more to come.

It bases this assumption on the push effect of UK energy rates increasing by a quarter during the duration of the project. ?So it makes sense to be investing in energy efficiency rather than paying bills,? Andrew Bolitho (property, energy, and transport policy adviser) told Business Green. The numbers mentioned exclude third party transport and distribution networks not under the British Retail Consortium umbrella.

The ?complex and inaccessible policy landscape? is the reflection of UK legislators not tidying up as they go along. BRC cites a ?vast number of policies ? spreading confusion, undermining investment and making it harder to raise capital?. The prime culprits are Britain?s CRC Energy Efficient Scheme (previously Carbon Reduction Commitment) which publishes league tables and ESOS. Andrew Bolitho believes this duality is driving confused investors away.

The British Retail Consortium is at pains to point out that this is not about watering things down, but making it simpler for participating companies to report on energy matters at a single point. It will soon go live with its own information hub providing information for retailers wishing to measure consumption at critical points, assemble the bigger picture and implement best practice.

Ecovaro agrees with Andrew Bolitho that lowering energy demand and cutting carbon is not just about technology. We can do much in terms of changing attitudes and providing refresher training and this does not have to cost that much. Studies have shown repeatedly that there is huge benefit in inviting employees to cross over to our side. In fact, they may already be on board to an extent that may surprise.

Spreadsheet Woes – Ill-Equipped for an Agile Business Environment

These days, crucial business decisions have to be made in a split second. However, the quality of these decisions hinges quite often on timely, insightful information and relevant business reporting.

How effective is your business reporting solution in providing you with the information you need at the time you need it?

Chances are, like 75% of small and medium businesses, your company is using spreadsheets. True, spreadsheets are the most common go-to solutions for on-the-fly forecasting, but they may not be your best option for presenting information that require consolidation and in-depth analysis and involve a lot of number crunching, especially with critical data at stake.

Furthermore, spreadsheet-based reports are rarely produced in a timely manner. In today?s fast evolving business environment where flexibility, mobility, and timeliness are the order of the day, this simply won’t do.

Let’s take a look at the particular areas where spreadsheets fall short when it comes to providing dynamic and sound financial reports:

Collaboration

With rapidly changing market conditions, organisations have to conduct budgeting, forecasting, and planning more often. Hectic schedules and geographical distances aren’t a hindrance though, because technologies like the Internet, advanced telecommunications and mobile devices can put instantaneous collaboration at everyone?s fingertips.

But collaborative activities in a dynamic setting can only succeed if all participating individuals are given secure, real time and simultaneous access to the same relevant information. This way, every change made is automatically consolidated and projected unto the bigger picture for everyone to digest.

Alas, spreadsheets aren’t built for this.

Cost Efficiency

Whether we’re in a recession or not, cost efficiency has to be taken into consideration. Are spreadsheets really the cost-effective solution?

Think ?time is money?. With the length of time needed to prepare data, establish controls, consolidate reports and distribute copies, you’ll realise how expensive spreadsheets actually are.

The ability to innovate in a changing economic environment and limited resources – a valuable derivative of agile practices – can give your company a very significant advantage. But dedicating so much time on spreadsheet management can strip your organisation of room for innovation.

Quality of Reports

Business empires rise and fall on the power of relevant information. At the end of the day, top management should assess their sources of key performance reports, planning tools and budgeting applications using these parameters:

  • Does your financial reporting system give you the right information right when you need it?
  • Do the reports allow you to look beyond the numbers to spot trends or forecast changes in the market?
  • Do they furnish enough significant data for you to make informed decisions in good time?

Spreadsheets weren’t designed to analyse data on the enterprise level. As a result, spreadsheet reports often take far too long to prepare and more importantly, may lack the dimension and depth that are crucial in decision making.

Data Reliability

We’re all familiar with the risks associated with spreadsheets. This error-prone UDA can provide inaccurate information simply because of a broken link, an incomplete range, a deleted number, or an incorrect formula. In an active business scenario where data manipulation has to be done under constant time pressure, the risk probabilities escalate.

As they always say, ?If anything can go wrong, it will?. With spreadsheets, a lot of things could go wrong. Is this the kind of tool you?d like to work with when making fast, crucial decisions? If you’re still using spreadsheets, then you?d best forget about dynamic reports and rolling forecasts.

Inability to adapt to personnel turnover

A key challenge in maintaining the spreadsheet system is picking up where another left off. A user would find it difficult to debug, revise, or analyse a spreadsheet system he developed himself and the process becomes doubly complicated if or when another person takes over.

Starting from scratch is painfully counterproductive, so that a newcomer has to spend hours figuring out the original entries in the spreadsheet and the reports it yields.

While no one is indispensable in any organisation, it’s pretty much accurate to say that if a spreadsheet ?developer? leaves, it could momentarily halt the production of key finance reports. In a fast changing business landscape, such failure to monitor performance at critical times could sound the death knell for your company.

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Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


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How Energy Management Software Benefits Your Business

We’re in an era of price volatility in gas and electricity prices, coupled with greater scrutiny on the environmental impact of businesses in their day-to-day operations. According to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the average SME can slash its energy bill by 18-25% simply by installing energy efficiency solutions in their facility. 

Are you looking to improve energy use in your business? Prevent wastage, track consumption, identify opportunities to save on energy and reduce your carbon footprint while at it? It can be a daunting process to do it all manually. Taking those meter readings, preparing spreadsheets and combing through quotes and energy bills to validate them – this is not something you should be enduring in this day and age. Not when there are dedicated systems built for the task. That’s where Energy Management Software (EMS) comes in. 

Importance Of Energy Management Software

Wasted energy = Wasted money

Failing to improve energy efficiency is costing SMEs loads of funds, with it coming to between £5,801 and £12,109 of missed annual savings for individual businesses. These are 18% – 24% of their energy costs. Where do you stand?

Take timers and thermostats for instance. When not properly set and controlled, or even simply forgetting to turn them down when not in the room, it can easily lead to unnecessary costs. How often do your staff forget to turn off the air conditioning when they leave the meeting rooms? Do you account for weekends or bank holidays when setting the controls of the AC? Mistakes like turning the temperature high on the thermostat to “quickly warm the room” are common, yet heating costs go up by about 8% with every 1°C rise.

There are installations that you can make to minimize wastage. For example, the Chinese Contemporary Arts Centre in Manchester is able to save £4,363 annually just by having a £100 timer installed to its heating system. 

Some energy saving measures won’t even cost you a penny. For instance, did you know that you can save up to 30% of your heating costs simply by preventing cold air from entering the building? This means not keeping the doors just open for convenience. So how can you find points of weakness and areas of improvements in your facility? Install an EMS. 

While businesses vary from one industry to the next, energy management basically boils down to:

  • Metering systems where the consumption is recorded
  • Determining how much energy can be saved by identifying opportunities for this
  • Implementing policies and changing existing systems to take advantage of these opportunities
  • Tracking progress after the improvements have been made

 

Benefits Of EMS For Your Business

Data Acquisition – Where accuracy and reliability matters

Energy data comes from different angles and formats. From the building automation systems and IoT devices that have been set up, bills sent in by the utility company to the spreadsheets needed to analyse them – what if you had it all from one point of reference? The EMS gives you a “bird’s eye view” of all your energy data from one interface. It collects the data from any system – and being cloud-based, is accessible from anywhere in the world. 

The ecoVaro data loggers can be connected with the Wi-Fi network of the facility or function independently, depending on your specific requirements. They monitor readings 24/7, retaining the data even when they have been powered off. The end-to-end encryption assures you of the security of the information that is being obtained. 

Integrating the EMS into the existing systems will simplify the data collection process, and even for the cases where there isn’t a direct method transferring the data into the system, the setup wizards that come with the EMS allow you to prepare the required data and import it. 

Data Analysis: From consumption, energy leaks to areas of improvement

The first step is accurately collecting the data. The next step is making sense of it. The analysis modules with the EMS allow you to monitor the energy consumption of the facility in real-time. 

The energy data is displayed in engaging graphics that are easy to understand at a glance. The dashboard setup, with its customised layout, enables you to monitor the performance of the specific information you want, toggling through usage and savings data, to the meters and sites that are being tracked. With the ecoVaro Energy Management Software, you get Consumption Charts, Regression Charts, Cusum Charts and Heatmaps right to the submeter level. This information can be broken down into 15-minute durations, with the daily, weekly and monthly consumption reports. 

Getting everyone on board

Making changes to company-wide energy policies needs to have the different parties on board – from the energy manager in charge of crunching the numbers and presenting the information, the CFO of the business, the staff running day-to-day operations, all through to plant operators for those in industries. An easy mode of communication is needed, that will be understood and availed in reports that can be shared with the relevant parties in the organization. The graphical displays that come with the EMS enable actionable information to be displayed in a simplified manner – that way all members of the business or organization will be able to comprehend it. 

Meet your Energy Goals

The baseline that is created in the EMS is used as a standard when assessing the impact of future changes to the energy consumption. Using the information that has been obtained, the management can set up energy saving policies and implement changes, and track KPIs (key performance indicators) along the way. For instance, the market research company DJS Research installed a timer switch that turns off their two water coolers when they aren’t in use. This action saves them £144 annually, and had already paid for itself within 35 days.   

You will be in a position to assess the actions that provide your business with the best ROI over time, monitoring the progress and verifying the savings from one central dashboard. Cutting costs here will enable you to divert the funds to other areas of your business, including promotions, marketing, and product development.

For businesses in the energy sector- including electric, oil and gas plants, they specifically need carbon emission reports, to pinpoint areas where the building’s energy efficiency can be improved. ecoVaro EMS allows you to set alarms and KPIs in the facility for issues to be identified and resolved immediately they crop up. 

Turn to ecoVaro

EMS systems are used across the board – from optimising energy use in hotel rooms and hospitals, mapping out usage patterns for those in the agriculture and supply chain niches, running facilities for utility providers, all through to increasing the efficiency of equipment operation for business in the food and beverage sector. Want to learn how you can cut down your energy bills and make your business more eco-friendly? EcoVaro’s team is ready to get you started.

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