0 min read
1. Check bills and read meters
Faulty meter readings, unmonitored energy usage and inaccurate billing can waste money and energy. So, make sure to record and understand your consumption.
Correlate each bill to a meter to ensure you are being charged for the right meters.
- Take weekly or monthly readings of your main electricity and gas meters or other heating fuels
- Put these in a spreadsheet to allow you to view the data as a graph more easily and identify peaks and troughs
The longer you monitor, the more useful this information will become, so you can start comparing year on year performance. Use the energy usage tracking spreadsheet to get started.
Pass meter readings to your energy supplier to ensure they base your bills on actual readings, not estimates.
Account for variables
Energy consumption can vary depending on factors such as:
- Guest nights
- Visitor numbers
- Outside temperature
Track the most appropriate variables alongside your energy consumption. This way, you'll spot any significant changes.
Flag peaks and troughs
Even if usage remains relatively constant, it is useful to continue tracking. People can randomly waste energy due to poor control, unexpected equipment faults, or human error. But you can amend these quickly and cheaply.
Share results of monitoring with staff to keep them engaged in energy saving efforts.
Wireless energy monitor
Good for small businesses. This wireless energy monitor shows you how much electricity you’re using, and which appliances, gadgets and lights use the most. Raised awareness will allow you to change your behaviour and thus save money and energy.
Automatic meter reading systems
Good for larger businesses. Automatic (half hourly) meter readings are a cost-effective way to collect energy data and ensure accurate billing. Check with your energy supplier for further information.
These are useful for businesses with distinct areas of energy consumption (e.g. kitchens, bedroom, public areas). Submeters measure selected areas to help you identify where you can make energy savings.
Monitoring it regularly will help you manage usage, cost, and identify leaks quickly.
An energy audit is a systematic review of how your business uses energy. You can do it yourself or you could hire a consultant, which is especially useful for larger businesses.
Start by doing a physical inspection of your building(s) and equipment. Identify what uses energy (e.g. heating, lighting, refrigeration) and what controls them (e.g. thermostats, timers, switches). This can help identify waste and opportunities for savings.
Things to Check:
- Are there areas that are over or underheated?
- Are unoccupied areas heated?
- Are thermostats and timers set properly to match occupancy and the season?
- Are lights on unnecessarily?
- Are windows left open in heated areas?
Do regular walk-rounds of your business during different seasons and at different times of day. This includes out-of-hours to identify differing energy usage patterns.
You should also encourage staff to report potential issues. Think of faulty lamps, overheated areas, dripping taps, doors and windows that don’t close properly, or unnecessarily lit areas.
4. Use data to take action
All this information can build a picture of when and where energy is being used, but by itself this won’t save you energy or money. It is important for you to use the data and act upon it.
Identify energy waste
Let data guide the way
Collect data to track consumption patterns. You might also find it useful to measure your carbon footprint.
Looking to invest in renewable technology? Knowing how much energy you use will help you choose the most appropriate technology for your business.
Investigate anomalies and set achievable targets for energy reduction. This includes what might be causing unusually high energy consumption overnight.
Quiet energy guzzlers
These are equipment that's consuming energy when it is not needed, such as:
- Vending machines
- Electric heaters
Investigate how you could control their energy consumption through timers and sensors.
Use minimum external lighting at night for security, safety, and lighting efficiency.
Refrigeration uses significant energy. Any cooling equipment that is low on refrigerant gas will quickly double the amount of electricity it uses.
- Check door seals
- Make sure condensers and evaporator coils are free from dust
- Have your freezers regularly defrosted
- Fit strip curtains in walk-in fridges and freezers
- Switch off lights in cooled spaces
- Don’t keep doors open for longer than necessary
- Don’t overfill units
Maintain your equipment
Ensure you regularly check your boilers, refrigeration, extract ventilation and grease traps. Clean and well-maintained equipment operates efficiently and lasts longer. A simple maintenance schedule will save on energy and costs.
If you have staff, get them involved. Explain the purpose of energy monitoring and share the results with them on a regular basis. Show them how their actions are making a difference and celebrate / reward successes and targets reached.
5. Further information
Monitoring and managing your energy is an extensive topic and there is a wide range of additional information available to guide and support your efforts.