In the last article we introduced why energy efficiency in the workplace is not only good for the climate but it creates and pleasant working environment which is essential for the staff and ultimately good for the bottom line of the business. If you haven’t read it than you can access it below.
Now we are going to look at assessing your business’s energy usage – tools and techniques for understanding energy insights and tracking your business energy consumption.
As businesses continue to operate in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive landscape, it’s important to not only minimise costs but also minimise the impact on the environment. With the well-documented volatility in electricity prices, one area where many companies can make significant improvements in energy efficiency. By reducing energy consumption, businesses can save money on energy bills, increase their bottom line and do their part for the environment.
Assessing your business energy usage
The first step in reducing energy consumption is to understand how and where energy is being used within your business. This process of understanding energy insights and tracking energy usage is called “energy assessment”.
By conducting an energy assessment, you can identify areas for improvement, track progress and make data-driven decisions about future energy usage. Energy is a finite resource and should not be seen a as tradeable commodity however by using less energy now you as a business owner can reduce your energy costs, and protect against energy price inflation in the future.
Tools and techniques to assess business energy insights
There are many tools and techniques available to assist with your business energy assessments. Some of the most common methods include:
Business Energy audits
An energy audit is a systematic examination of your business’s energy consumption and use. A professional auditor will typically examine your energy bills, inspect your facilities, and gather data on your equipment, appliances, and processes to identify energy-saving opportunities. An energy audit can be an extensive and detailed process and is often performed by an energy efficiency consultant. SEAI provides grants to support companies wishing to carry out business and public sector energy audits. Also, check Climate Toolkit 4 Business to get assistance with starting your zero-carbon journey.
Energy Management Systems (EMS)
An Energy Management System (EMS) is a software tool that allows you to monitor and control business energy consumption in real-time. These systems can provide you with detailed information about your workplace or business energy consumption, including where and when energy is being used, and can help you identify areas for improvement. They can also help you set and monitor energy-saving goals, track progress, and make data-driven decisions about future energy usage. These systems look to ensure that only what is needed to operate space is used. We have examples of clients who have seen €10k reduction in air conditioning costs month on a month where appropriate occupancy controls are put in place.
Smart Meters for Business
A smart meter is an advanced meter that can communicate with your energy supplier and provide real-time data on your energy consumption. Smart meters can be integrated with Energy Management Systems (EMS) to provide you with even more detailed information about your energy usage. By monitoring your energy consumption in real time, you can identify patterns, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions about future energy usage.
Building Management Systems (BMS)
A Building Management System (BMS) is a computer-based system that allows you to control and monitor your building’s energy consumption. A BMS can be used to control lighting, heating, cooling, and other energy-using systems within your building, and can provide you with detailed information about your energy consumption. By integrating with Energy Management Systems (EMS), a BMS can help you make data-driven decisions about future energy usage and track progress toward energy-saving goals.
What energy efficiency measures should we consider for a business or workplace?
Once you have identified areas for improvement and established energy-saving goals, there are a number of strategies you can implement to reduce your energy consumption. These may include:
Lighting retrofits involve upgrading existing lighting systems to more energy-efficient systems, such as LED lights. This can significantly reduce energy consumption and associated energy costs. Remember clever positioning of office furniture can be a cost-effective way to reduce the need for artificial light and improve the use of natural light.
HVAC/ heating upgrades
Upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to more energy-efficient types can also significantly reduce energy consumption and associated costs. This can include upgrading existing systems, installing new systems, or implementing more efficient controls and management systems. Taking a look at how you are heating the space is important along with the fabric of the building reducing sources of draughts and improving windows to improve the use of natural light.
Building automation and control systems
Building automation and control systems can help you optimize energy usage in your building by automatically controlling lighting, heating, cooling, and other energy-using systems. By integrating with Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Building Management Systems (BMS), building automation and control systems can help you make data-driven decisions about future energy usage and track progress toward energy-saving goals. The use of movement sensors occupancy sensors and timed switches are a great low-cost way to introduce automation.
Equipment and appliance upgrades
Upgrading to energy-efficient equipment and appliances can have a significant impact on reducing energy consumption and costs. This may include upgrading or replacing old and inefficient equipment with newer, more energy-efficient models. Examples of equipment and appliances that can be upgraded include HVAC systems, lighting systems, office equipment, and kitchen appliances.
Implementing energy-efficient practices can also have a significant impact on energy consumption and costs. This may include turning off light switches and equipment when not in use, setting computers and other devices to “sleep” mode and not “standby” mode when not in use, and utilizing natural light whenever possible. Encouraging office employees to be mindful of energy usage and implementing energy-saving policies and procedures to reinforce these practices can also be effective in reducing business or workplace energy consumption.
Investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, can not only reduce energy consumption but also help businesses achieve a more sustainable energy supply. These sources can also provide cost savings in the long term as they become increasingly cost-competitive with traditional energy sources. We will be discussing in more depth how renewable energy can work for your business in the coming months.
Government grant schemes
Many government organizations like SEAI, offer grants and other support for businesses that implement energy-saving measures. Researching these Grant Funding programs and taking advantage of any available incentives can help offset the cost of implementing energy-saving strategies and make them more financially feasible.
In conclusion, understanding energy insights and tracking your business’s energy usage is a critical step in reducing energy consumption and operating costs. By conducting an energy assessment, implementing energy-saving strategies, and tracking progress with tools such as energy audits, Energy Management Systems (EMS), smart meters, and Building Management Systems (BMS), businesses can make data-driven decisions about their energy usage and achieve significant reductions in energy consumption and costs.
By starting the journey with low-cost energy conservation behavior, applying simple measures which can deliver a reduction in energy use, and working with staff to ensure employees’ buy-in through surfacing data through measurement your business will be best placed to deliver its more capital-intensive energy-saving activities sustainably.
We hope the our article has helped you now know the tools and techniques you can use to measure business or workplace energy consumption. We think you will surely love our article on some simple and low-cost energy saving tips for workplace as well Read the article below.
SEAI: Home – Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland https://www.seai.ie/business-and-public-sector/small-and-medium-business/supports/energy-audits/
Energy Star. (2021). Renewable Energy. https://www.energystar.gov/renewable_energy
Energy Star. (2021). Energy Management Systems (EMS). Retrieved from https://www.energystar.gov/products/building-products/controls-and-smart-equipment/energy-management-systems-ems
US Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Building Automation Systems. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/energy/building-automation-systems
Department of Energy. (2021). Energy Efficient Equipment and Appliances. Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/eere/consumer/energy-efficient-equipment-and-appliances
Department of Energy. (2021). Energy Efficient Office Operations and Maintenance. https://www.energy.gov/eere/office/energy-efficient-office-operations-and-maintenance