ENERGY STAR® is the nation’s most widely used and recognized energy reporting and benchmarking system, but it is seldom considered to be a method of measurement and verification (M&V) of savings. EnergyCAP, Inc.’s CEO, Steve Heinz, recently led a study to determine if ENERGY STAR ratings can be used as a low-cost, simple M&V method when the cost of a more intensive analysis is not justified. Steve presented the results of his study at the most recent World Energy Engineering Congress in Atlanta, GA.
In a perfect world, all of your utility meters would trip their odometer readings at 12:00 a.m. on the first day of every calendar month, all your utility bills would reflect the energy you used for precisely that period, and all planes and trains would run on time. Your relationship with your energy data would be perfect, and you wouldn’t need dating rules!
“How are you currently processing your utility bills?” Here at EnergyCAP, we’ve been asking that question of our prospects for decades. Surprisingly, the answers are often more about what people are NOT doing, rather than what they ARE doing: The most common answers are: “Each department receives its bills, gives them a visual check, and then forwards them to Accounting for payment.” “Accounting receives the bills and pays them, and then they send us a spreadsheet to review.” Both responses ("check first" or "check later") are commonly followed by, “We know we should check our utility bills more closely, but we don’t have a system in place to do that.” These folks have already figured out that they should be auditing their utility bills. They just want to do it better. And that, of course, is where EnergyCAP comes in. EnergyCAP enables you to audit effectively.
It’s the “CAP” in EnergyCAP—"Cost Avoidance Program"—and it’s helping more than 800 organizations across North America to measure and verify the impact of their energy conservation measures. But what happens when extreme weather threatens to hinder accurate calculations?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Today we introduce a new energy management infographic available from EnergyCAP. And whether you are a customer or a first-time visitor, this resource may remind you why you would want to acquire or maintain a software tool for your energy program.
Good News! A/P and GL Export are coming to EnergyCAP Online, and soon—maybe even this month. Our developers are confident that EnergyCAP Online (ECO) 3.4.2 (with a tentative release date in late February for select clients) will include a functioning A/P and GL Export that will duplicate functionality that had previously been available only in the installed version of EnergyCAP Enterprise, including all filter options currently available in EnergyCAP Enterprise. Not only that, but there are some valuable enhancements.
Today’s blog is specifically for EnergyCAP clients who are either in the implementation process or who are looking for better ways to make large-scale organizational changes to their EnergyCAP database. We want to show you how to do things better—to “cheat” what could be a lengthy or tedious setup process by using Excel to import setup data or organization updates more quickly. And a big thank-you to EnergyCAP Senior Project Manager SJ Bergman for explaining these cheats to me!
In today’s blog, we are going to run through the entire process of obtaining an ENERGY STAR building certification for your commercial building. Studies have shown that ENERGY STAR certified buildings: Have lower operating costs Are more marketable Contribute fewer greenhouse gas emissions to the environment Command higher rental rates Have increased asset value So there is real value in investing time and effort in the certification process. Here’s how you do it.
Today’s blog features Q&A from our recent Energy Leader Webinar on “How to Create an Annual Utilities Budget.” We start off with general questions relating to budgeting approaches, variables and philosophy, and then move on to EnergyCAP application-specific questions. The final questions are in regard to the new Budgets Worksheet module in EnergyCAP, which produces an Excel spreadsheet enabling users to model and adjust their utilities budget for each commodity and building. And now, here’s the Q&A:
EnergyCAP 3.4.0 is now available for EnergyCAP-hosted clients! The first user to log in this week will see the update notice in the Login Manager and should click on the prompts to complete the upgrade. This upgrade includes exciting improvements to the ENERGY STAR interface, as well as support for the optional custom report designer Plug-In for Excel®. Read on to find out more about the new features.
An important aspect of energy management is the measurement and verification (M&V) of energy management initiatives, whether behavior/operational or hardware/retrofits. Besides the obvious need to verify savings when the contract is based on performance, M&V also provides valuable feedback to participants and senior management. But M&V waters can become muddied when on-site renewables such as PV solar and wind turbines are involved.
Meter interval data can be useful for a variety of reasons. How many reasons can you think of? In this 5-minute video from the 2015 Catalyst Training Conference, Steve Heinz shares 12 value streams of obtaining meter interval data for effective energy management.
EnergyCAP utility bill management software has about 300 “canned” reports, so new users often ask me, "How do I know which reports to run?” Today’s blog highlights five reports that you might not even know exist. But I’m betting that when you see them, you will see real value for your organization. I first shared these reports at our annual Catalyst Training for Savings conference last month. If you haven't attended a Catalyst training yet and you are using our software, I recommend that you set aside the time and funding for next April to take advantage of this valuable resource.
They're present in or on nearly every building you visit, tracking every drop of water, every stray kilowatt, every wisp of natural gas. They're on duty 24-7, and the information they carry is vital to your organization's bottom line. Ideal workers, they never complain, seldom need attention, and perform with near flawless precision. In fact, they're so reliable that it’s easy to take them for granted. But our advice is: Don’t Miss Your Meters. We’re talking about your commodity meters here. Those silent sentinels that quietly gather the consumption data that drives your sustainability and efficiency efforts and helps determine your success or failure.