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.
If you have multiple meters, start by correlating each bill to a meter to ensure you are being charged for the right meters.
Take meter readings at least once a month and analyse them to identify where you can save energy. Pass meter readings to your energy supplier to ensure bills are based on actual readings, not estimates.
Energy consumption can vary depending on factors such as guest nights, visitor numbers and outside temperature, so monitor the most appropriate variables alongside your energy consumption to account for any significant changes.
Even if usage remains relatively constant it is useful to continue monitoring to flag up waste that occurs at random because of poor control, unexpected equipment faults, or human error, which can be rectified quickly and cheaply.
Share results of monitoring with staff to keep them engaged in energy saving efforts.
2. Monitoring methods
Monitoring gives you a better understanding of how energy is used, helping you to quantify savings achieved through your energy saving measures, and identify unusual changes in consumption.
Wireless energy monitor
Good for small businesses, a 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 achieve savings.
Automatic meter reading systems
Good for larger businesses, automatic (half hourly) meter readings provide a cost-effective way to collect detailed 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 savings can be made.
3. Energy audit
An energy audit is a systematic review of how energy is used in your business. This can be done by you or a consultant and is especially useful for larger businesses.
Start by doing a physical inspection of your building(s) and equipment to identify what uses energy (e.g. heating, lighting, refrigeration) and how energy usage is controlled (e.g. thermostats, timers, switches). This can help identify waste and opportunities for savings.
Things to Check:
- Are there areas that are overheated 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, including out-of-hours to identify differing energy usage patterns.
You should also encourage staff to report potential issues such as faulty lamps, overheated areas, dripping taps, doors and windows that don’t close properly, or areas where lighting is left on unnecessarily.
4. Using 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.
- Think about what equipment is consuming energy when it is not needed, such as lights, vending machines, chillers, electric heaters. Investigate how these could be controlled through timers and sensors
- Investigate what might be causing unusually high energy consumption overnight
- Use minimum external lighting at night for security and safety, and improve lighting efficiency
- Is maintenance needed? For instance, any cooling equipment that is low on refrigerant gas will quickly double the amount of electricity it uses. Ensure equipment, such as boilers, refrigeration, extract ventilation and grease traps in kitchens, is properly maintained and regularly cleaned and serviced, so it operates efficiently and prolongs its life. Establishing a simple equipment maintenance schedule will save on energy and costs
- Refrigeration uses significant energy. Check door seals, make sure condensers and evaporator coils are free from dust; freezers are regularly defrosted and strip curtains are fitted in walk in fridges and freezers. Switch off lights in cooled spaces; don’t keep doors open for longer than necessary and don’t overfill units
- Use data collected to track consumption patterns. Investigate anomalies and set achievable targets for energy reduction
- If you have staff, get them involved- explain the purpose of monitoring and share the results with them on a regular basis to show them how their actions are making a difference. Celebrate and reward successes and targets reached
- Looking to invest in renewable technology? Information on energy usage will be valuable when choosing the most appropriate technology for your business
- Do you want to calculate your Carbon Footprint? Accurate information on energy consumption is crucial to this
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.