Start Now for Big Energy Savings in 2018 -Part 1
Most of us try to get back to the basics, the “block and tackle”, when the new year roles around like trying to eat healthier, lose weight, get organized, and spend more time with the ones we love. We also do this in our businesses by trying to – stick to the budget, make more sales, increase profits, hire great people to work with, etc. These goals and aspiration are good and noble but will only happen if a plan is put in place and executed consistently and at a high level. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you’ll plan to fail.”
So, do you have a plan in place to save lots of money on your energy bills this year? If you’ve never thought about the potential savings from the energy you use and just thought those costs were fixed, now is the year to discover what some have already – THERE ARE PROFITS TO BE MINED IN THOSE ENERGY BILLS. All it takes is some time and effort and some pointing in the right direction to start Saving Now. Whether your a very large company or a small one, these basic principles can be the foundation for building an Energy Savings Plan that will last.
1. Understand Your Energy Bills
Someone in your organization needs to understand your Energy Bills so that you pay only what you should and no more. It’s amazing the number of times you’ll find electric or gas meters being paid by someone other than the end user. This happens when someone isn’t paying attention to the bills after a “move-in” or “move-out”. You need to have good protocols in place when processing these energy bills since these types of undetected errors will eat into your profits. Here is a checklist that will help you get the Energy Bill Basics under control:
- Validate the Electric and Gas Meters at Each Facility
- Ensure that the Proper Rate or Contract is being Applied
- Before Paying Check for Monthly or Yearly Anomalies in (kW, kWhs, CCF, MCF, etc.)
- Check your Taxing Status (Tax-Exempt or Taxable)
These energy bill basics can get you off to a good start in building your energy savings foundation even if you choose to hire a utility bill payment company to handle your bills in the future. Next, let’s look at tracking usage and costs.
2. Track Your Energy Use and Cost
You’ve heard the saying, “You Can’t Manage what You Don’t Measure”. It’s true. If you’re not tracking what you are using or how much per unit you are paying for the energy you are buying then you won’t have the information you need to make good energy decision. If you’re a small company you can use a simple spreadsheet to track these important metrics and if you are a larger company have a utility bill payment company manage this for you.
Here are some of the key metrics that will give you an indication on where you are headed (trending) in regards to usage and cost:
- USE/SQFT/MONTH – this will allow you to see usage (kWh, CCF, BTU) changes month-to-month and year-over-year on a square foot basis.
- COST/SQFT/MONTH- this will allow you to see cost ($) changes month-to-month and year-over-year on a square foot basis.
- PRICE/COMMODITY UNIT – this is the unit cost for the electricity or natural gas you are buying. Example: $0.10/kWh.
Though your metric sophistication will grow as your company’s knowledge of energy matures, these are good ones to start with and are invaluable for a general understanding of your energy trends. Your FIRST YEAR can be your BASELINE YEAR and from that you can determine initiative and project savings going forward. You’ll also be able to tell when something is amiss and needs to be attended to. This simple dashboard of data can help eliminate energy waste and provide the feedback you need to validate the level of success from energy conservation projects.
Now who is going to make sure we reach our energy saving goals? Let’s talk about that.
3. Have Accountability for Your Energy Saving Goals
First, let me state that everyone in an organization has some level of ownership in regards to saving energy and meeting the goals the company has set. That’s being a team player. But it’s also true that accountability has to come from someone or a group that is empowered to make the changes that will move the company towards its goals. Again, whether it’s a small company with a dozen or so people or a corporate giant, the $BUCK$ has to start and stop somewhere.
When I was the Energy Manager at J.C.Penney we met quarterly with an advisory group made up of senior managers from different parts of the company. This forum allowed a healthy exchange of ideas and information and helped move our energy initiatives forward. In addition to this, the Energy Team met monthly with stakeholders who we were accountable to regarding budgets, forecasts, accruals, and energy savings. Here are some helpful suggestions that will make your savings go “BIG” in the new year:
- Everyone has to care about Energy Savings (some more than others)
- Accountability has to reside with someone or a group that has the power to make the changes
- Goal Review has to happen with a frequency that will enable success (weekly, monthly, quarterly)
Understanding your energy bills, tracking them, and having accountability concerning your energy goals is foundational to creating sustainable energy savings. In my next article we’ll look at some “low hanging fruit” areas that can yield energy savings NOW and all year long.
If you would like to discuss please call me, Michael Culver, at (214) 336-3954 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Culver Energy Consulting is a registered firm with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE) providing power purchasing and energy management solutions for businesses.
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