Ask most businesses how much energy they use, and the answer will often be “no idea”.
That’s understandable: unless you receive an itemised energy bill, it can be nigh on impossible to gather accurate usage data.
For large public companies, understanding energy usage is more important than ever before.
As we continue to understand the impact our past and current behaviour is having on the environment, business and investment attitudes are shifting. Sustainable investing is becoming more mainstream with investors eager to understand a company’s energy usage, environmental footprint and sustainability commitments.
The good news is that smart meters are making it easier than ever before for businesses to track energy usage for sustainability initiatives and billing certainty.
What are energy monitors?
Energy monitors are simple devices that monitor electricity usage in real time. Some devices can be simply clipped onto a meter while others require an electrician to install.
The monitors collect the pulse output from an energy meter and report this information in either amp hours or KWHours (we’ll explain the difference between the two in more detail later on). This information is then reported via a software portal available on mobile, desktop or tablet.
Why should businesses use energy monitors?
1. Billing certainty
Managing costs within your business can be a balancing act and energy costs are no different. This is especially true in 2022 with multiple steep price increases announced within the past few months and inflation biting hard.
For businesses, inaccurate electricity meter estimates can lead to nasty surprises, especially when allowed to roll over. Internal budget allocations based on historical data can be wide of the mark and leave finance directors facing a huge bill with no room to maneuver.
For commercial businesses wanting to plan more effectively and budget for their electricity consumption, energy monitors are the perfect solution. They tell you exactly how much energy is being used even at sub metering level.
For example, if you own or operate a commercial unit with a single meter but have multiple tenants, energy monitors can help drill down into how much energy is being used and in what location. This can be especially useful for billing breakdowns or understanding spikes in usage.
2. ESG Reporting
Environmental social and governance reporting, simply known as ESG reporting, is the disclosure of information relating to company activities in the three aforementioned areas; environmental, social and corporate governance.
Analysis and screening of ESG factors prior to investment is becoming more mainstream in equity investment. In debt markets some banks are linking loan interest rates to ESG reporting while a growing number of workers are increasingly opting for green pension funds that contribute towards the future they hope to enjoy upon retirement.
With sustainable investment becoming more commonplace a lack of commitment to ESG reporting could hurt your business.
Energy usage is one of the most important ESG metrics to report. Energy monitors make this reporting straightforward. They let businesses get a handle on their usage so they can decide what energy reduction efforts to make. They also make tracking and communicating your ongoing energy reduction efforts to shareholders and customers a doddle.
3. Solar Panel Monitoring
Although solar panel monitoring could be discussed under both headings above, we felt it deserved its own heading due to their widespread adoption that shows no sign of slowing.
Smart energy monitors are the most accessible way for businesses to track how much electricity their solar panels are returning to the grid.
A retrofit energy monitor works with any type of solar panel and gives real-time usage data. This, coupled with energy management software, will enable you to analyse information in even greater detail and highlight usage trends and how much cost should be offset by the time billing comes around.
Some solar panels already have built in monitoring technology that you can view on their own software or via a mobile application, however over time as you switch supplier or upgrade to new technologies this complicates matters.
A retrofit energy monitoring device can be used on any brand of solar panel. Once you’re familiar with the software platform your experience is consistent, even if you choose to scale up and install more devices on additional solar panels or on building meters or circuits. The device can be used again and again even when solar panels are changed or upgraded.
By choosing a retrofit approach every device across your estate is reporting to a single platform. Billing and usage totals are all in one place so you’re not scrambling to correlate information and pull together meaningful data from multiple places.
Types of energy monitors
Amp Hour Monitors
Amp Hour Monitors are energy monitors that track and communicate your electrical current in real-time.
These monitors are ideal for tracking usage and determining if sustainability efforts are having an impact. Graphs of amp hour usage over time will show upward or downward trends or spikes in usage so you can spot trends and focus your carbon reduction efforts where it counts.
Wireless amp hour monitors are quick to install and can monitor the entire building or sub meter individual circuits within the building. Some Amp Hour monitors even use power from the circuit to operate, negating the need for batteries.
Kilowatt Hour Monitors
Kilowatt Hour monitors are devices that track your power usage in real time.
They can monitor an entire building or sub meter individual circuits within a building.
Kilowatt hour monitors are best for keeping track of both your carbon footprint and energy costs. They’re suitable for a single unit, a single building or an entire estate. Installation is quick and easy and real-time data is viewable on a software dashboard.
With Kilowatt hour energy monitors you’ll never be surprised when your electricity bill arrives.
Whats the difference between KWHours and Amp Hours?
As you might have gathered from above, there are different units of measurement used when monitoring energy usage.
A short explanation:
Amp hours are a measure of electric current while Kilowatt hours are a measure of electric power.
Depending on what your energy monitoring goal is, the type of energy monitor you require may be different.
If you are hoping to gain billing certainty then an energy monitor that clocks Kilowatt hours is necessary.
If you are hoping to monitor energy usage and track how it changes over time an energy monitor that tracks Amp hours will do the job.
We have both types of devices available – if you’d like to find out more get in touch today.
How do I read the data?
Energy monitors are IoT devices:
IoT devices collect information and wirelessly send it to the cloud. The information is then analysed and organised into an easy to read visual software dashboard or portal.
Choosing the right software is important especially if you want to easily view historical data and trends.
The Safecility dashboard is packed with information that will help you manage your energy usage. View consumption graphs across your entire estate in realtime and export billing reports as needed.
While reports make it easy to fulfill your ESG reporting obligations and make smarter carbon reduction decisions.