Don’t Waste Money on Real-Time Meters If You Aren’t Taking Advantage of Utility Bill Data

Abtar Singh, President kWh360 Inc.

The most useful data for energy-cost reduction arrives like clockwork every month, hiding in plain sight in your utility bills. If you aren’t using this information to help control your energy use, it would be a waste of money to invest in real-time meters.

This article explains how to use the trove of valuable information in your bills.

With proper analysis, you can use the data for these purposes:

  • Identifying your best locations for potential savings.
  • Projecting how much you can expect to save from future projects.
  • Tracking how much you have saved from prior projects.
  • Spotting ways to protect and continue the savings you previously achieved.

Get most of the information you need, free and easily

Your utility bills provide you with 90% of the information you need to reduce your utility costs. You don’t have to install meters or sub-meters.

Your utility bills include data on the amount of energy or water you used, the number of days in the billing cycle, and the cost per unit you consumed during peak and non-peak hours.

Save your billing data now, and compare the changes from month to month

You get value from your utility-bill data by comparing changes from month to month and year to year. It pays to save and accumulate the data in a single software tool where you can easily analyze it.

To accurately compare usage trends, you must consider all the relevant variables that change from bill to bill:

  • The amount of natural gas, electricity, and water you use
  • The total cost for the amount you used
  • The cost per unit
  • The number of days in the billing cycle.

You must combine these data elements with others that come from different sources:

  • The weather for each building during the billing period
  • Other factors, including the building area (square footage) or volume (cubic footage) under management
  • The kinds of equipment, machines, appliances or other assets that consume energy or water.

Adjust for the variables

To see trends, you must first adjust for changes to any of the preceding variables. To do so, you normalize the data by using a series of conversion factors and equations. The math is not very complex for an engineer, provided the number of buildings and time periods are relatively small.

Many organizations track such information and do the normalization in spreadsheets.

Scale the process for more buildings and longer periods of time

But the more building you manage, and the more widely they’re spread apart, the more elaborate the mathematics become. Spreadsheets get unwieldy, for example, when you collect weather data and try to normalize it for dozens or hundreds of buildings in many locations over many months or years. Changes in square footage and building assets further complicate the calculations.

To manage energy use and efficiency for many buildings over several years, you need more robust software to perform complex calculations. You also need graphics to present the analysis in ways that are easy to interpret.

That’s the purpose of a software product called 360-Cloud, which kWh360 recently released for general use. Once you’ve collected the gold ore buried in your utility bills, 360-Cloud helps you refine it into useful insights.

You can use your new insights to guide better investment decisions. And that’s how you turn utility-bill data into real money on a profit-and-loss statement.

For more on 360-Cloud, please email or call 651-605-1093.