When delivering an energy management strategy or just simply saving utility costs, this is the most important part of our process and in most cases the most difficult. Data often makes people feel unsure, fearing that it is too complex. However, it is essential for visibility of your energy consumption and processes.
You will always hear me say “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, a phrase often attributed to American engineer W. Edwards Deming. How can you manage energy consumption of a building without understanding what the current consumption actually is? I rest my point.
W Edwards Deming was a leader in quality improvement and responsible for recommending other tools we apply in energy management and these tools are utilised with the ISO 50001 process Plan, Do, Check, Act.
Data is critical when doing energy assessments. But a desire to gather data should not slow the process down. But you should also use your experience and intuition, as an expert. Often when you attend site it is so obvious what is going on and the trends can be identified just through walking the property. The data just provides evidence to back up what you are seeing. In some cases when we look at trends of the history, we ca highlight what the issues are and when did they occurred.
When starting the process of energy management, we need to seek the data. If there is no data available at the time, we need to request indicative annual costs or budgets and backward engineer, the consumption. In this case also you could look at CIBSE Guides. These guides are dated, and many people feel that do not provide good accurate guides. However, they are a good start, especially if you have no data to start with and they are being improved.
Data can come from various places. But you need to make sure it is of good quality data and it is important that the data has been verified.
Below are some of the areas that you can get data from, and the pros and cons of each.
|Meter readings||Accurate readings and actuals from the site source.||Meter not always read consistently. Not easy to find. Sometimes misread.|
|Half hourly data||Daily access to data and visibility.||Data collector not always on top of the collection and Faulty Meter or poor comms.|
|Bills and invoices||Visibility to how the site is consuming and being billed.||Billing not always representative of actuals and shows estimated. Beware of billing errors|
In the UK gaining access to data can be difficult but when you are aligned with service ‘partners’ that can gain access to data for example Telex UK who are an energy broker or IMServ Europe a simple letter of authority can enable you to gain access to two Years of data. This may vary based on how many supplier switches the client has made over the two years and would vary from country to country throughout the world.
Data is so important we have developed relationships with software providers to help us gain access to this this data and present it in a format that makes complete sense and understanding to our clients.
For example, if you present an organisation with a list of numbers it will be hard for them to understand what is happening but once you convert the data into a graph it is easier to read and makes much more sense, enabling decisions to be made on the back of it.
The below graph shows a week of Half Hourly, interval data where it has been embedded into a software system.
Once your strategy is implemented ensure that all data is collected monthly and documented on to a data collection document.
I have created many MS Excel reports over my time to assist in collecting the data and many documents to help present into management information. But when you consider daily presentation it is always best to utilise software.