Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see exactly how much electricity, gas and water your buildings were using in real-time, and know how much your bills are going to be?
Most buildings have a single gas, water and electricity meter point that’s periodically read for billing purposes. Extracting relevant usage information from these meters is difficult with many businesses adopting a “wait for the bill to arrive” approach.
However, gas, water and electricity usage monitoring is easier than you might think, even for large businesses.
Inexpensive wireless sensors & software that remotely read how much energy you are using at a meter point, at sub-metering level or even from a single device or appliance are now available.
In this post we’ll show you how you can use small discreet energy monitors to track your utility usage without fuss and at low cost.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- What are energy monitors
- Benefits of wireless energy monitoring
- Best practices for wireless energy monitoring
- Energy data management
Let’s get started.
What are Energy Monitors?
Energy Monitors are devices that track how much energy your building is using. You’ve probably heard energy monitors referred to in many different ways. Common terms we hear from our customers include: electricity usage monitor, electricity reader, power usage monitor, gas usage meter, water consumption meter. Energy monitors are not new, they’ve been around for many years and come in a variety of different forms. For example, the meters installed in your building that your utility provider uses to keep track of your electricity, water and gas use are energy monitors. These kinds of meters are static and the data collected by them must be read off manually. Wireless energy monitors Thanks to improvements in wireless technology, software and data analysis we’re now seeing wireless energy monitors enter the market. These devices are clipped onto an existing utility meter, or installed into a distribution board where they remotely gather energy usage and wirelessly send consumption information to a central software platform. Up to date consumption data can be used to identify spikes or trends in use, spot areas of energy wastage, give real-time billing information and vastly improve management of energy within a building or wider business.
Benefits of wireless energy monitoring
A clear understanding of energy use is one of the most valuable assets an organisation can have. Up to date usage information will inform sustainability measures, lower costs and improve cash flow.
See the key benefits of energy monitoring below.
1. Improved asset management and targeted energy reduction
Asset and facilities managers are always busy. Keeping on top of energy use and minimising any excess is a mammoth undertaking, especially for businesses with a large building footprint.
A well-implemented remote energy monitoring system collects all usage data in a building into a single place, transparent to all departments.
Wireless energy monitors take just minutes to install, require no ongoing maintenance and can be used to track usage even at single circuit level. Asset management gets clear actionable insights about usage within the building without any input or extra work required.
2. No more shock bills
In 2022, no business has escaped the skyrocketing cost of energy. Rather than waiting for your energy bills to arrive, wireless gas, water and power monitoring lets you accurately see how much your energy is going to cost during that period before you receive your bill.
3. ESG and sustainability compliance
Depending on the type, structure and size of business you operate, you may have ESG compliance obligations.
Usage reporting or sustainability targets are common business goals. ESG reporting is especially important for publicly funded companies that receive funding based on their environmental activities. Rather than estimating consumption, an intelligent energy monitoring system effortlessly tracks how much energy you (or your tenants) are using and compiles this information into ESG reports so you can ensure you remain within compliance.
4. Squeaky clean baseline data
Clear up to date energy usage data benefits your internal business operations. Asset managers, finance planners, sustainability managers all have access to accurate data collected by wireless energy monitors that makes their life easier and improves the company’s bottom line.
Establishing a precedent of energy usage is also important for organisations performing energy upgrades or future proofing their buildings. Understanding where you started makes tracing improvements in energy usage straightforward.
Best practices for wireless energy monitoring
1. Wireless means wireless
Wireless energy monitors should be just that, wireless. If they require additional fixtures, lengths of wire or even unusual tools to install it’s going to make deployment a hassle.
2. Choose a long battery life
Most wireless electricity monitors do not require batteries, they draw power from the live wire they are monitoring. Gas and water monitors are generally battery powered – if you’re installing these sensors you want to choose ones with long battery life (10+ years) so you can just fit and forget.
3. Use LPWAN networks
LPWANs – Low Powered Wide Area Networks – are wireless networks used for sending and receiving small packets of data. LPWANs are ideal for energy monitors because they are low cost, consume very little power (see point 2 above) and have deep building penetration.
Energy data management
The amount of data created by wireless energy monitors can be overwhelming. You’ll want to keep it simple and choose data points that are most valuable to you and your business and a software with an easy to use interface.
When deciding on your energy data management software it’s important to make sure that it’s user friendly and shows you exactly what you want to see.
At Safecility we find that usage from each meter within a building graphically overlaid is very useful for our clients wanting to highlight peaks in usage.
Usage ratios are also extremely important for our clients with multiple power sources e.g. the grid and solar PV.
For our clients with tenants; daily, weekly and monthly reports with tenant level usage are most valuable.
Get started with energy monitoring
Whatever your focus – billing management, solar power tracking or ESG reporting – wireless energy monitors coupled with easy to use software will soon have you on your way to gathering and using accurate energy usage data to benefit your business.
Are you considering energy monitoring? Get in touch today.