Organisations face numerous challenges in managing energy usage, with many asking for more control in handling costs and potential risks. Dave Lewis, head of business energy services at npower, looks at the importance of accurate monitoring and analysis to inform necessary changes, and to measure their subsequent effect.

The last two years have brought about fundamental changes to commercial energy usage, both in new legislation, such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), and also with increasingly tight budgets resulting in cuts. The latest findings from npower’s Business Energy Index (nBEI) report revealed that companies rate energy management and reducing energy consumption as important to their business (7.4 out of 10), but monitoring consumption as only fairly important (5.6 out of 10) in this process.

Regardless of the different energy targets each individual organisation strives to meet, access to accurate and comprehensive data underpins the instigation of an effective energy management strategy. How can businesses decide on the most effective methods of reducing their usage, without first analysing where inefficiencies currently lie?

By using energy consumption as the starting point, businesses can be advised on the most appropriate energy saving measures to install. Monitoring and targeting software, such as npower’s encompass, can assist in identifying areas of potential energy reduction, therefore enabling the board to ensure it invests in the right areas. Businesses looking to improve their energy efficiency should look for an installer that can survey the building, specify the products and system design, and provide programmable installation, commissioning and lifecycle maintenance. npower’s Business Energy Services division covers all of these aspects, offering a seamless solution for organisations committed to meeting energy reduction targets.

npower’s encompass supports the work of our Business Energy Services division, as energy and building managers are able to monitor specific energy usage and so can record the improvements brought about by the new measures. Monitoring software tracks business specific KPIs set by the individual building manager so that not only can the effectiveness of a particular initiative be measured and its levels of success fed back to the board, but it also allows energy managers to monitor, measure and minimise their consumption in line with energy reduction cost measures.

Energy monitoring software, such as encompass, also allows facilities managers to spot any discrepancies in energy usage, which can highlight any problem equipment and also can indicate if building users or tenants have tampered with manual controls. This is particularly useful for buildings such as schools, which are empty for several weeks of the year, as energy levels can be set to holiday mode and monitoring can ensure the building is kept at the optimum temperature for energy efficiency throughout the break. For the same reasons, monitoring software can also be effective in managed offices as both data and energy usage can be identified floor by floor, via sub-meter installation.

Another feature of npower’s encompass monitoring software is that it can be used in conjunction with Google Maps to highlight which sites in a company’s portfolio are performing the best against their energy reduction targets. The sites are categorised in red, amber or green depending on their performance, providing an at a glace view on progress across an organisation.

npower has been using encompass to manage its own consumption, and this experience has fed into its development, helping to highlight the challenges faced by businesses today. Encompass is currently used across some 30,000 sites with feedback from energy and building managers using the software fundamental to its ongoing development. Regardless of the size or function of the organisation, being able to personalise what and how their energy management system monitors and reports, is vital to organisations.

An accurate energy monitoring system is also important for companies taking part in the CRC and the European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading System (EU ETS). Using the encompass system, facilities managers can set up alarms to alert them in terms of cost, carbon or consumption. This means they can track their progress against forecasted emissions and ensure they stay within the purchased emissions allowances.