If you don't have an energy professional on board at your company, managing your energy needs can feel like battling an untameable monster.
Fortunately, you can cut through the chaos with the right tool. An energy management system (EMS), for example, makes it easy to monitor, control, and analyze your energy use.
There’s a bit of confusion surrounding what these sophisticated software programs can do, largely because different platforms cover different use cases. You won't find a lot of consistency among them, aside from bill pay and usage tracking.
Still, the time you spend exploring the EMS landscape can really pay off. Check out this list of ways an EMS can benefit your company.
1. Budget Smarter
An EMS can bridge the gap between loose business goals and measurable targets. That's because the system will track detailed usage information over time, and store it in a centralized, digital repository. Once you have access to your historical energy data, you can begin to analyze trends, make usage forecasts, and check the accuracy of those predictions.
The first step is to create processes for reviewing the data - preferably monthly, quarterly, and annually. You can view your usage data by location, region, and even meter.
2. Get Seriously Easy ROI
The purpose of an EMS is to save your business money on energy. Your system will lower power use during peak times, enable you to participate in revenue generating programs, and help you discover energy leaks. With so many cost-saving features, it’s nearly impossible not to see an ROI.
3. Identify, Test, and Validate Energy-Saving Scenarios
You can't minimize energy costs without a strategic, comprehensive approach. While you can always reduce load during key times, your business will still be paying more than necessary. Use an EMS to examine the whole picture instead, and discover opportunities for energy saving programs you can roll out businesswide.
Pore through the data to uncover patterns. Review locations with the highest and lowest energy bills, and determine what machinery or practices represent the difference. Investigate which demand response (DR) strategies you can use on a daily basis, and how you can leverage seasonal trends.
Once you’ve identified a savings opportunity, you'll need to implement it carefully. Start in one location, and test the results for at least a month before you change company policy. Use the reports the EMS generates to sell the idea to colleagues and superiors; you can build excitement and support for your initiatives by showcasing real results.
4. Monitor Your Own Demand Response Test
Before your business can score a DR contract, you'll need to demonstrate that you can restrict power use at specific levels and times.
Let’s say you specify that you can cut your load by 20%. The provider will put in a test call to verify that you can deliver. With an EMS platform, you can measure your progress during the test in real-time. If your efforts (such as shutting down power to certain elevators or corridors) are falling short, you can make adjustments to pass the test—or come up with a more realistic goal to share with your provider. In the event that you fail, you'll have data showing how you can do better next time.
5. Fulfill your Demand Response Contract
Once you sign a DR contract, you'll save tons of money whenever you’re called on to help keep the grid up and running. Your EMS can track whether you're living up to the contract terms, and reducing your load by the promised amount.
6. Create Alerts for Just About Anything
You can set up email and SMS alerts for a number of events, including:
- Over-usage by a meter or location
- Market LMP price changes
- Matrix price changes (daily fixed price)
- Power strip price changes (forecasted price)
These alerts will help you stay on track with your energy usage goals, and identify the best times to lower your consumption.
Energy Management Software is Worth the Investment
The benefits you'll get from an energy management system far outweigh the time and effort you'll spend integrating it. Whether your business participates in a DR program or not, it makes sense to cut power use when energy is at its most expensive. An EMS will make this a breeze.
Be sure to do some independent research, and brainstorm a list of the features you want before you shop around. Once you've made your choice, set up a dashboard that aligns with your business goals, and start saving!