Most people sweat the small stuff without understanding the real, big energy villains at their facility. But real-time monitoring is a growing technology that gives you – users and managers – visibility of the when, how and where of your energy consumption, giving you the power to get savvy, cut wastage and improve energy efficiency.
As an energy consultant, I’ve seen so many clients rack up exorbitant electricity bills due to accidentally leaving their air conditioners running after hours.
It’s almost painful to watch those energy graphs stack up when it’s 11pm… 1am… 3am… 5am… or on holidays when the building is empty… and to think about all that electricity wasted, money burned and CO2 emitted when no one’s onsite to enjoy the comfortably chilled atmosphere. Ouch! It’s almost as heartbreaking as seeing the horror on my clients’ faces when they realise it, too!
But the good news for my clients is: they know about it. And that means that they can change. (And they do; I’ve seen clients save hundreds of dollars a month from responding to data/knowledge about their energy consumption, and improving their staff behaviours or equipment).
How do they know? It’s all thanks to a nifty but simple technology known as real-time energy monitoring, which is attracting growing interest as smart businesses realise that knowledge is power – literally.
A real-time, multi-point monitoring device is a unit that records your energy consumption in real time – sometimes as good as minute by minute – and tells you which part of your site is using energy whether that’s your lighting, your air conditioners, the cool room, the ovens…
One of my personal favourites when it comes to real-time energy monitoring: BEST’s Eniscope Hybrid, a retrofittable device with 8 monitoring channels and its own cloud-based software program Analytics
The cloud-based software Analytics, which comes with the Eniscope Hybrid and lets you access live data from nearly anywhere, anytime, in a dynamic and easy-to-use way
Most real-time monitoring devices and programs are even smart enough to send you an alert when things go wrong – which you can customise to receive on your phone or by email, and intervene straight away – or generate reports in a range of file formats.
But what are the benefits of all this knowledge? Why monitor your energy in real time?
Well, as mentioned before, you can identify wastages like those pesky after-hours air conditioners and react immediately.
Second, you can understand the big energy users at your site (equipment or areas) to target for energy efficiency projects, letting you invest wisely in your chosen improvement initiative.
You also have the data for auditing, compliance and stakeholder reporting.
Finally, you can measure the improvements from other efficiency projects you undertake, such as the “before” and “after” of a new lighting upgrade. In short, real-time monitoring empowers you to manage your energy in a smart, efficient and reliable way – because when it comes to energy, you can’t control what you don’t understand.
A neat little extra is having a public display portal. I’ve seen many clients enjoy the benefits of a big LED screen in their foyer telling their customers, staff and community how much energy they’re using – or better still, not using! It’s a great educational tool to foster sustainability awareness (not to mention earn a little sustainability kudos for the business!).
These public energy displays from Solar-Log are a great example of display screens showcasing the value of energy efficiency – fun, engaging, educational
There are countless examples of the value of real-time monitoring and what it can reveal: Appliances you never thought about may be drawing huge loads. A timer might have reset itself and started switching on the ACs at four in the morning. There might have been an electrical outage and some loads not re-connected. Phase imbalances might dog a particular area and be wearing out the electrical circuitry… It goes on.
Real-time monitoring changes all that by giving you the “eyes” to “see energy” – where, when, and how much is being used. As a result it lets you control and improve your operations, save money, and say goodbye to wastage.
There’s no excuse nowadays for blind-guessing your energy efficiency projects given the range of monitoring technologies available at our fingertips – yet most managers and owners are stuck in the dark ages.
Don’t let that be you. It’s time to Get Real about your energy use!