They're not as glitzy as a shiny new solar array or as smart as a new smart meter, but monthly utility bills and the energy information they provide are the foundation for most successful energy management programs. If you're not using utility bills to track your energy use and cost, you're probably missing energy-saving opportunities. And if you're not tracking with energy management software, you may be missing more.
Here are seven reasons why you should use utility bill tracking software.
1. It's Complicated
Energy data is complicated. There are multiple units of measure, multiple vendors, multiple commodities, multiple rates, multiple charges, multiple taxes—shall we go on? It's tough getting a handle on your energy use and cost in an organization of any size, and the larger the organization, the more difficult the task becomes. Software provides a scalable solution for handling that complexity. If you're a small business with one or two vendors and a handful of utility bills every month, you may not need utility bill tracking software. But if your business is larger or growing, be thinking about it.
2. Data is for Databases
There's a significant amount of data on a utility bill. And when you bunch those bills together, you get Big Data. That data needs a place to live—a place where you can get at it any time of the day. Utility bill tracking software begins with a database capable of storing any energy information from the bill. Once the data is in the system, it’s remarkably easy to use it productively. Digital data is storable, sharable, and actionable in ways that non-digital data is not.
3. You Can Make HistoryAnother reason to use utility bill tracking software is that it provides convenient access to your utility bill history. You can’t know where you are going in energy management unless you know where you’ve been. Your historical utility bill data has value for budgeting, auditing, benchmarking, and analysis—vital business activities that directly impact your organization bottom line. No matter how big that utility bill history grows, energy management software will keep it manageable and actionable.
4. Time is Money
The fourth reason is because energy management software can automate the mundane and repetitive tasks associated with energy analysis while saving you time and effort. The value of this automation increases with the size and scope of your organization. Can you imagine the time required for you to compare paper bills from two different months for 1,000 different utility meters with multiple commodities, vendors, and units of measure--just to determine the total energy use and cost for both months?
And how much more time would be needed for you to determine which of those bills might contain errors or signal an energy management issue in need of correction? Energy management software can perform those types of audit, analysis, and reporting functions in seconds.
5. Visual Data is More Powerful
The fifth reason is because energy management software can provide visualization tools that make data actionable. Have you seen the Verizon “Seeing is Believing” advertisements promoting their wireless coverage? They make their point by showing people a map of the United States with their coverage areas in color, and comparing their coverage with their three top competitors.
They are banking on the fact that humans are visual creatures, and we act based on visual data—in this case, the impressive comparison between the Verizon LTE network and the more limited networks of their rivals. Admittedly, you can draw pictures without software, but energy management software can do it so much more quickly and accurately.
6. Have it Your WayThe sixth reason you should use energy management software is because it can enable you to organize your utility bill information in just the way you want. And it provides the tools to quickly change that organizational scheme to adjust to your changing needs. If you’ve just been reporting on cost but now the boss wants cost AND energy use, that’s no problem. If you’ve added a new building to the East Campus and you need to include it in your historical reports, all you do is enter the energy data. Need to move ten years of energy data for multiple meters from one management group to another? Just click and drag. Done.
7. Sharing is Caring
One of the most important (but often undervalued) reasons for using energy management software is the enormous benefit of data sharing. Energy data transparency and availability has the power to transform an organization. Once the data is in the database, energy management software makes it easy to communicate that data—even automatically. EnergyCAP software includes an automated report tool that emails periodic energy reports to various organization energy stakeholders. Each report can be customized based on the stakeholder's sphere of influence and unique data requirements. The email recipient gets just the data required at the right time, and without the labor typically associated with reporting tasks.
To summarize, tracking utility bills with energy management software provides a way for you to efficiently handle complex energy data in ways that will bring value to your organization. And that value will only increase with the size of your enterprise. If you're not realizing that value with your current process, consider using utility bill tracking software.