Ten Ways To Slash Energy Costs

Posted on February 20th, 2011 by
   

Your bottom line. In the war against energy waste, this is where the victor is declared. It’s not HOW you save energy dollars; it’s HOW MUCH you save.

The war for savings is fought on many fronts. Lowering lamp wattages, installing automated building control systems, and replacing inefficient equipment are common strategies. Yet many building owners are surprised to discover a valuable tool that yields remarkable cost avoidance at a fraction of the price of retrofits and automation hardware.

Energy Management Software
Energy management software is a highly economical weapon in the cost reduction war. Sometimes referred to as energy accounting, energy information, energy efficiency, or energy tracking software, these solutions are built around a database of your utility bills.

It might seem easy to design a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that tracks your monthly electric bill, and it is—if you only receive a bill or two. However, building owners who receive hundreds or thousands of monthly bills can benefit from specialized software that is crafted to zero in on problems and spot potential cost savings quickly and easily.

Energy management software has been gaining popularity for 30 years. The first software to win widespread industry adoption was FASER Energy Accounting, first released in 1982. As PCs became prevalent in business, building owners found that software such as FASER was indispensable in combating energy waste.

These days, there are numerous software vendors and a wide range of products—from simple spreadsheet-like programs that are low in cost but offer few features, to powerful and more expensive applications more suitable for Fortune 1000 corporations and large government agencies. The list below, Ten Ways to Save, will help you identify some key features of your energy management solution.

So what exactly does energy management software do? Energy tracking says it best. Energy management software tracks utility bills, which enables you to identify abnormal trends and suspected billing and metering errors. Some programs also track 15-minute electric meter data (demand), which can provide valuable insights into near real-time usage patterns and expensive peak loads, leaks, or process inefficiencies.

The best selling energy management software is called EnergyCAP. EnergyCAP is the official and certified upgrade to FASER. EnergyCAP offers client/server, web-based, and fully online versions.

Ten Ways to Save
By compiling a database of utility bills, energy management software puts the power of information at your fingertips. Here are ten ways to slash your energy costs:

  1. Eliminate Billing Errors. Utility companies aren’t perfect—mistakes happen. EnergyCAP spotted an $873,000 over-billing that resulted in a one million dollar refund.
  2. Fast Processing of Utility Invoices. National chains and property managers that receive thousands of monthly utility invoices can use energy software to rapidly process bills via manual entry and EDI at considerable cost savings. One retailer is saving $380,000/year.
  3. Make Wise Energy Purchase Decisions. Customer Choice programs save money by letting you select the lowest-cost vendors, generators, and producers, but they require accurate energy data. Energy management software can provide the information you need to make the best choice.
  4. Submetering, Cost Allocation, and Re-Billing. Managing the cost accounting for a large university-owned utility system is complex and difficult. The right energy management software gives you a single tool for handling submeter readings, virtual accounts, tariffs, cost allocation, and reporting.
  5. Uncover Account Ownership Errors. Are you paying for someone else’s energy? It sounds simple enough, yet large organizations often pay for former leased space. One hospital chain didn’t notice a $15,000 error for eight years.
  6. Monitor, Report and Motivate Occupants to Conserve. Your dilemma—you have thousands of switches and thermostats, yet the occupants control them. Monitoring your occupants’ energy consumption and providing relevant reports demonstrates your commitment to energy savings.
  7. Identify Building Control Problems, Inefficient Facilities, and Spot Leaks. You can’t manage what you can’t see. Interval data charts, benchmarks, trends, profiles, and comparisons help you identify inefficient facilities. Also, interface with ENERGY STAR.
  8. Track and Report Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Green Energy Credits. Ninety percent of greenhouse gases come from energy usage, so your energy management software should provide a platform for greenhouse gas tracking for a building, meter, or your entire organization.
  9. Perform Energy Savings Measurement & Verification. Performance Contracting is the preferred method for energy retrofit projects, but not without accurate and timely “cost avoidance” reports. A comprehensive energy management software solution will include a sophisticated cost avoidance module.
  10. Improve Budgeting, Accruals, Accounting. Cost and usage budget, forecasting, and accrual features can save time and money on the tricky and often time-consuming tasks of utilities cost accounting and management.

It is a sure bet that over time, energy management software will save you far more than what it costs. This is good news in your war on energy waste…and for your bottom line.

Written by Steve Heinz, EnergyCap Inc.

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