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Blaine Clapper

Beware the Corrected Utility Bill

Today’s blog post addresses an issue that can pose a challenge to any energy manager: the corrected utility bill. Whether or not you are a current EnergyCAP client, you know the drill. Each month, you receive your utility bills, enter or import them into your energy database and accounting system, and then pay them. Pretty straightforward, right? Right... But what happens when a bill you receive this month includes a line item correcting a bill you received and paid last month or many months ago?

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Barry Kroeker

Pebble Beach Update | Webinar on Getting Project Buy-In

Our readers may remember a June blog where we shared a story about two of our EnergyCAP software developers who competed in a local golf charity event and ended up winning an all-expense-paid trip to Pebble Beach, California, to compete in the largest amateur golf tournament in the world. Today, we’ll tell you the end of that story. We’ll also share about next Tuesday's webinar—the latest in our Energy Leader Webinar series. You won't want to miss it!

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Blaine Clapper

We're All in This Together

High School Musical, released by The Disney Channel in 2006, was a huge success, nationally and in my household. The musical, which introduced the world to now mega-stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale, had many comic and poignant moments, but what has stuck in my head is the movie’s closing number, We’re All In This Together. Performed by the entire student body, the song emphasizes the importance of acceptance and working together for a common good, and the value that each individual brings to that effort. That melody often comes back to me when I’m participating in a family activity that has been labeled undesirable by at least one of our four family members. It was also the first thing that popped into my head when pondering energy management challenges common in decentralized institutions. Could yours be one of them?

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Barry Kroeker

Measuring Progress toward Zero Energy

I was recently reading an article on Greenbiz.com relating to Zero Energy Buildings which got me thinking (again) about the challenges associated with any energy stewardship project. Chief among these is measurement and verification (M&V). People want and need to know an answer to a very basic question: How much “X” did we save? The “X” can be any commodity, of course. But to talk about those savings, we have to have a common understanding and agreement on how we will assess them. And if the amount we save approaches the amount we use in our building, campus, portfolio, or community, we are closing in on zero energy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the National Institute of Building Sciences, has made a helpful contribution in this area by preparing A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings. We’ll summarize this resource in today’s blog.

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Blaine Clapper

Project Approved!

At some point in our careers, we all find ourselves in a position where we have to stand up and fight. Not in the manner of physical battery, but in the way of a challenge to get our proposed budget approved, or add a staff position, or maybe even justify our own job. Energy managers are no exception to this process and frequently find themselves in front of the city council or an executive board seeking funds for an energy conservation project.

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Barry Kroeker

Software is a Tool, not the Master

Before we get started on today’s topic, let me share some exciting news regarding a company reorganization here at EnergyCAP. Don’t panic, it’s nothing dramatic or upcoming—just a part of our vision for 2016: “Getting to the Next Level.” As a company, we’ve taken a good look at where we are and where we want to go in pursuit of our company purpose, and we’re implementing some changes around here. One such change was put in place about three months ago. Our Sales and Marketing teams have been blended into one. With the meld comes an opportunity to set new goals and directions and to better harmonize our departmental visions. The new arrangement may impact our blog content.

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Blaine Clapper

EDI: Two Decades the Champ, but Still Misunderstood

Despite its 20 years as the heavyweight champion of utility bill electronic processing and payment (at least in the eyes of the largest utility vendors), Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is still a widely misunderstood utility billing option. A recent conversation with the energy manager at a mid-sized U.S. city went something like this: Energy Manager: “We would like you to get our utility bills and import them into EnergyCAP.” Salesperson: “We can do that. Do you know which electronic invoice formats your vendors offer?” Energy Manager: “They’re all EDI.” Salesperson: “All of your vendors offer EDI 810?” Energy Manager: “I’m not sure about the ‘810’ part, but I can log on to the vendors’ websites and download my bills in a spreadsheet. That’s what we’d like you to do for us. We want to get them in EDI, because it’s faster and gives us all of the information we need.”

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Barry Kroeker

It’s Not Fair Not to Normalize

“Data has a nasty way of representing the wrong idea when inaccurately reported.” —Tony Rovano, AssetWorks It’s your first year on the job as energy manager for a sizable regional real estate management firm. You’re proud of several new initiatives that you were able to implement, but as the summer drags on, you hear through the grapevine that the CEO has been receiving concerned memos from Accounting due to rising utility expenses. Now your supervisor has threatened to pull the plug on a major lighting retrofit that you know will pay for itself in savings over the next three years. It looks like the honeymoon is over, but you are scratching your head to try to figure out what went wrong. It just isn’t fair.

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Barry Kroeker

Lipstick on a Pig? 12 Questions to Ask an EMS Software Vendor BEFORE You Buy

At EnergyCAP we’ve been involved in a few RFP processes where we knew that the chosen Energy Management System (EMS) software vendor was not going to be able to supply the goods and/or services required. The solution (and the price!) might have looked appealing at first glance, with lots of pretty charts and graphs, but if the client stakeholders would have taken a closer look, they might have discovered that Sales was putting lipstick on a pig. If you think you may be in the market for utility bill and energy management software, you owe it to yourself and your organization to ask potential vendors the hard questions. For each question, we’ve provided an explanation and an EnergyCAP benchmark to consider as a standard for your next EMS software RFP.

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Barry Kroeker

Miami-Dade County’s NACo Awards

At EnergyCAP, we are always delighted when our clients receive accolades for their creative use of our products. In today’s blog, we recognize Miami-Dade County in honor of their recent NACo awards. Read on for a detailed description of what they’ve been doing. You might get some great ideas for your next energy efficiency initiative.

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Barry Kroeker

An EnergyCAP Health Checkup: Plantar Fasciitus

Oh, your aching feet! As an energy manager, your feet might ache because there's too much load on them. Your buildings may have abnormal load also, and we can measure that using a load factor calculation. EnergyCAP’s AN12 report will help you spot an abnormal load factor. It’s a tabular report that shows your load factor (from 0 to 100) for each electric bill.

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Barry Kroeker

An EnergyCAP Health Checkup: Scintillating Scotoma

There really is a medical condition known as scintillating scotoma. It has to do with “seeing stars” often in association with a developing migraine headache. But if you’re using EnergyCAP, we really want you to see stars—ENERGY STARs, that is.  

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Barry Kroeker

An EnergyCAP Health Checkup: Diplopia

The second installment in our EnergyCAP Health Checkup series is for those clients who may be seeing double (diplopia) but haven’t figured out that their historical utility bill records have been contaminated over time by inconsistent record-keeping relating to meter units of measure. Here’s how this illness is spread. Cost and use data for a meter is keyed or electronically imported year after year, but no one checks to see if each bill for a single meter represents consumption with the same energy units.

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Barry Kroeker

Pebble Beach, Here They Come!

Today's blog is company news with a surprising twist. Our regular readers may recall a recent blog on automated testing by EnergyCAP's Jared Matthews. Jared had an interesting experience on the golf course with co-worker Terry Yoder last week, and we'd like to tell you about it. On Tuesday, June 7, EnergyCAP, Inc. chipped in half the registration fee to send a group of eight golfers to the local Audi quattro Cup tournament, held at the Toftrees Golf Resort & Conference Center in State College, Pennsylvania. Jared and Terry thought they were just golfing to help out with a local charity event. Read on to discover what they received as a result of their participation!

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Barry Kroeker

The Cure for Database Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia can hit you right in the gut. It's that bad case of “indigestion” you experience as an energy manager due to bad utility bill data. So what's the cure for the bad data in your utility database? Audits and graphs. They are related but different treatment regimens. Let’s talk about audits first.

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Barry Kroeker

Are You Due for a Checkup?

EnergyCAP clients who attended this spring’s Catalyst Training for Savings conference were given a prescription for a healthy EnergyCAP user experience by CEO Steve Heinz at the closing keynote session. That keynote is being sliced and diced into a blog series that will assist our valued customers in maximizing the value of their EnergyCAP investment. The series will also highlight some common energy management issues and solutions that are independent of your specific energy management solution. Stay tuned for future installments in the series. Here’s an overview of what’s in store:

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Barry Kroeker

What Energy Managers Want

What do energy managers want? David Ulmer, our Vice President of Implementation Solutions and Product Owner here at EnergyCAP, was extensively quoted in a recent article in EnergyManagerToday.com with an answer to that question. At the core of the discussion was the technological reality that more and more energy data is becoming available, and that data needs to be effectively managed to achieve the twin goals of increased efficiency and energy savings. You can read more in the article, but today’s blog is a summary of what David has learned in hundreds of conversations with clients and contacts in the energy business.

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Barry Kroeker

It’s Time to Use Auto-Groups in EnergyCAP

One of the best things about EnergyCAP is its increasing automation of mundane tasks associated with organizing your energy data.

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Barry Kroeker

Catalyst Survey Results Are In!

Today’s blog reveals feedback from our post-Catalyst conference survey. Every year after our annual Catalyst Training for Savings conference, we provide an opportunity for attendees to share perspectives on their Catalyst experience. Congratulations to EnergyCAP client Lou Castelli for winning the survey Amazon Gift Card drawing!

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Barry Kroeker

Bill Lists in EnergyCAP

  Bill Lists have been introduced and upgraded in recent versions of EnergyCAP Online. The result is much more powerful and customizable displays of utility data. Clients working online will be amazed at the speed and flexibility of the improved application. Today’s blog explains a bit more about these helpful energy management tools.

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Barry Kroeker

Catalyst in Pictures

Today is day three at Catalyst, EnergyCAP’s annual Training for Savings conference, and we thought we’d blog some of the pictorial highlights to give you an idea of the experience that we are providing this week in State College, Pennsylvania.

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Barry Kroeker

Recent EnergyCAP Releases Add Value for Clients

In recent weeks, EnergyCAP has released two upgrades for EnergyCAP Online (ECO). This blog highlights new features and enhancements that have brought additional value to our clients.

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Jared Matthews

How Automated API Testing is Helping EnergyCAP Clients

Jared Matthews is Software Quality Assurance Engineer at EnergyCAP. As EnergyCAP, Inc. has taken its software products online, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have assumed increasing importance in our product development and quality assurance testing. This blog is about EnergyCAP’s API development, and exciting changes in our quality assurance processes that are making our online software versions more robust and useful for our growing client base.

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Barry Kroeker

The Right to Energy

Big ideas often have small beginnings. Today’s blog is about one such beginning, and it has to do with energy and human rights. But we’ll start our story with a different kind of beginning—a meeting of rebels in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1776. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...” Thus begins the second paragraph of what is arguably one of the greatest political documents ever penned, America’s Declaration of Independence.

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Barry Kroeker

GMU's Energy Management Reboot Saving Big Money

George Mason University had begun its journey into computerized utility bill tracking in the 1990s, but its software solution, Faser Energy Accounting®, had been acquired by Enron®. After the Enron bankruptcy scandal, the university needed to reboot its energy management program. GMU’s Energy Manager, Patrick Buchanan, summarized the situation as follows:

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Barry Kroeker

Highlights from Last Week's AccuWeather Webinar

It was spring break for Penn State students here in State College, PA, last week, but our team was hard at work producing a new webinar, How AccuWeather Data Provides Value to Energy Managers. Our CEO, Steve Heinz, teamed up with AccuWeather’s Director of Business Development Lou Seidel, to discuss how you can get the most up-to-date and accurate weather data, and turn that information into savings for the energy management program at your organization.

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Barry Kroeker

Check out EnergyCAP’s Top Ten Blogs

We haven’t run our “10 Top EnergyCAP Blogs” feature for quite a while, so we are presenting it now. These are the most-read blogs published in the last 14 months. Take a look through the list and click on the link(s) to view any that might offer value to you!

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Barry Kroeker

How AccuWeather Data Provides Value to Energy Managers

Today’s blog is a promotion for an upcoming live event webinar featuring EnergyCAP’s CEO Steve Heinz and Lou Seidel, Director of Business Development for AccuWeather. The webinar, sponsored by Energy Manager Today, is titled How AccuWeather Data Provides Value to Energy Managers, and will be held at 2:00 PM ET on Wednesday, March 9 (just one week from now).

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Barry Kroeker

Tucson Two-Step [New Case Study from EnergyCAP]

In today’s blog we share highlights from a new case study by EnergyCAP. Municipal and regional government readers will take particular interest in this implementation-focused story about a major city that jump-started its energy program with utility bill management software. As the title of this blog (and the case study) suggests, Tucson, Arizona's software implementation was not without challenges. In some ways, it really was a dance, going two steps forward and one step back as stakeholders grappled with legacy processes, organizational issues, information silos, and even personnel changes. But in the end, the opportunities outweighed the issues as the City's new energy manager successfully negotiated multiple management challenges, discovering immediate and long-term payoffs.

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