Note: This is a guest post by Colin Murray, a writer and editor who has covered the energy space for www.SaveOnEnergy.com since 2008.
While energy management systems (EMS) have become more common in utility and certain large-scale business verticals, it's becoming clearer that the future of EMS is integration with a much wider range of businesses and facilities.
For the purposes of this blog, EMS refers to a computer system designed specifically to enable automated control and monitoring of building control devices such as heating, ventilation and lighting installations.
As more devices and appliances come online, opportunities for energy savings through energy management systems are increasingly available to individual businesses, large or small.
Building on today's newest technology--including EnergyCAP software--it's easy for energy-conscious businesses to adopt an EMS approach tailored for their specific needs.
The basics of energy management systems
Two building blocks are required to support a viable energy management system:
- utility bill data
- real-time (smart meter) data
This data makes it possible to perform self-diagnostic and optimization routines, and to produce trend analyses and forecasts/budgets. In the past, utility bill data has been easier to obtain than smart meter data, but that's changing.
For example, many electric utilities are investing in smart meters to monitor customer consumption, especially in areas such as Texas where residents have the power to choose a supplier. Smart meters can periodically relay a customer's 15-minute interval consumption data to the utility and/or retail electricity supplier. This level of detail makes it easier for utility workers to monitor and optimize grid operations, and it also allows organizations to track their consumption internally, even at the level of the individual facility.
Having a solid understanding of consumption patterns is integral to operating any energy management system successfully. As with most attempts at increasing efficiency, having reliable and granular data makes optimization all the easier.
Using connectivity to control consumption
Building on the foundation of consumption data made possible by utility bill data and monitoring technology, other smart devices take the concept of energy management systems to the next level. The growing systems automation industry spans everything from lighting to HVAC systems to servers.
While the focus of automation has traditionally been labor savings, having the appropriate EMS technology in place also makes it possible to reduce organizational energy consumption. The energy manager is empowered to set consumption goals and integrate devices that automatically respond as needed to achieve them.
The key to energy management systems for business
While the benefits of energy management systems seem pretty easy to grasp, getting buy-in from higher ups or justifying the investment to others requires preparation and data.
What seems virtually certain is the rising cost of energy. As demand continues to grow, and if governments continue to enact policies restricting production of carbon-based fossil fuels, costs will be impacted. By adopting an energy management system now, you will be better positioned to respond.
Now that the technology is available, let's encourage its adoption.