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13 Jan 2021 | Industry Insights

Minimising energy use

Do you know the cost of your building’s energy use over the course of a year?

Do you know how that figure compares to other, similar buildings in your industry? Do you know how most of your facility’s energy is being consumed?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you are probably wasting tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds on energy annually. Large companies spend millions (sometimes billions) of pounds each year to keep their businesses running—a fact that is now capturing the attention of company boards.

Today, increasing numbers of building managers are trying to be proactive about energy management, implementing solutions that can help them save. But while those savings tell the end of a successful energy management story, where is the beginning? Rethinking your energy strategy starts with understanding your energy profile. It is not unusual for energy use to go unmonitored, leaving building managers with little to no insight about total usage or areas of high consumption—and therefore no actionable information that can help them improve. All change starts with awareness— in this case, about the energy profile of your own building as well as those of your competitors.

This report will show you how to get you started understanding your energy footprint, so that eventually you can identify the best opportunities in your building for controlling and optimising energy efficiency.

In other words, not all energy management strategies work the same for everyone. Which approach will yield the most savings for you?

Using the Internet of Things To Understand Energy Patterns & Consumption

The foundation of any energy management plan is data—data about the ways that energy is used and consumed in your building. Despite the tight control that most businesses have over other aspects of their finances, it is not uncommon for organisations to be totally unaware of their energy use patterns and consumption.

The Internet of Things (IoT) makes it possible to gather the necessary data so you can gain an in-depth understanding of your energy consumption. From there, you will be armed with the information you need to compare your usage against other, similar buildings in your sector.

Wireless IoT sensors placed throughout your building collect real-time information at a granular level, and can be used for remote monitoring on things like such as:

  • Energy consumption for lighting, HVAC and ventilation.
  • Occupancy of rooms/areas.
  • Temperature/humidity of rooms/areas.
  • Air quality.
  • Plant vibrations.
  • Plan usage patterns.

If you are measuring a buildings total energy use for the very first time, it is a good idea to deploy sensors in such a way that they cover the entirety of your building; the more data you have, the more insights you will get about the specific factors that influence your consumption level. Some building managers choose to place IoT sensors in areas where they are likely to have the most impact—on known power-hungry plant, for instance, or on HVAC equipment. Either way, having greater visibility into your current energy consumption and building environment is the key to knowing where—and how— to improve.

Data collection is a necessary step to maximise future planning. Once you have some data of your own, you can then use sector data as a reference point.

If you own multiple buildings, take your analysis to the next level and compare energy usage across all your portfolio. So not only would you benchmark how you compare to your sector and to the national average, but how your buildings compare to one another.

Hone in on energy saving opportunities

Using the IoT for remote monitoring and granular visibility of your facility will help identify areas of waste and inefficiency, and direct your efforts in developing energy efficiency strategies that will have the most impact.

Traditionally, building managers were limited in their ability to control energy use because there was no way to know exactly how a building’s power-sourced systems were performing. The best they could do was utilise building management systems to do things like turn the lights off at a certain hour or maintain predetermined room temperatures. Thanks to the availability of real-time data, all organisations can achieve greater efficiency gains—the kind that promise significant energy savings. For example:

Organization A gathers data around energy use and discovers the HVAC system is responsible for the largest portion of energy spending. Further investigation reveals that the HVAC system turns on at 5 a.m. and that most of the staff do not arrive for work until 8 a.m. Targeting HVAC as an area for improvement, the organisation altered the scheduling of its HVAC system to turn on two hours later. While still maintaining adequate air quality, the organisation was able to save tens of thousands of pounds with this tactic alone.

Organisation B gathers data and discovers that most of its operations are during the electricity provider’s hours of high demand (and a look at its energy bills shows that a large percentage of the cost is due to demand charges). It then investigated specific steps to minimise operations during that time, looking into what equipment could be taken offline that would not interrupt business continuity. Alternating HVAC operation by floor for an hour at a time, scaling back on lighting where appropriate and timing the use of high-power equipment to avoid operation at those key times were all strategies put into play, leading to significant energy savings.

The visibility provided by IoT sensors and analytic platforms allows you to take immediate steps to combat pernicious energy use patterns and save money as a result.

Take the first step towards smarter energy use

If you are looking for ways to improve your building’s performance, awareness is the first step. Understanding your energy profile naturally exposes inefficiencies and allows you to make meaningful comparisons with industry competitors that will further reveal areas ripe for improvement. Ultimately, data gathering and benchmarking lead to better outcomes for any newly implemented energy management program.

If you would like to learn more about how your organisation can take advantage of the IoT for real-time data gathering and optimisation, talk to us at Twinview.

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