As more businesses consider electrification efforts to reduce their carbon impact, energy decision-makers must not lose sight of the critical role of overall energy efficiency efforts. While electrification upgrades are often more efficient and can reduce overall energy demand for consumers, an increasingly volatile energy market means it’s as important as ever to have an energy strategy in place that can help you create efficiencies while protecting you from market risk.
Get Your Strategy in Place Before Winter Weather Hits
The volatile seasonal changes can drastically impact a business’ bottom line. So, what’s in store for this winter?
IGS Energy works with a Forecasting and Supply Analytics team to help customers make the energy decisions that help them most effectively reach their goals, whether that is to offset carbon emissions or to spend less money running their business.
Looking ahead to the colder months, there is some good news: This winter is likely to be dominated by the effects of a powerful El Niño that began this summer, meaning an above-normal, drier season for much of the northern U.S., and a wetter-than-average winter for the southeast. As of October reports, no area of the country is forecast to be colder than average.
However, we can’t say for certain that this winter won’t bring with it any serious storms and extreme temperature dips, as predicting these weather events is a complicated process. It’s difficult to forecast the strength, and the impacts, of winter storms more than a week in advance.
With so much uncertainty, there are steps to take to protect your business from the risk of a larger-than-normal energy bill. And the first step is to focus on what you can control: efficiency efforts. Ultimately, making any reduction in energy costs can be an immensely helpful step toward lower energy spending.
Reducing Winter Energy Consumption
If energy savings is the goal, the most effective first step is to enhance efficiency anywhere it’s possible. For example, replacing outdated equipment, retrofitting facilities with LED lighting and installing occupancy sensors can be a great place to start. Like any strategic initiative, improving efficiency takes time, as well as input from a few key players within a business. Once there’s a plan in place, these practices can almost immediately help lower consumption. As for creating a plan, our team almost always begins with the same strategic roadmap, regardless of a company’s size, sustainability goal or resources.
The next step is to invite the right people to the conversation. Operations and maintenance teams may have insight into energy usage, though they’re not typically the ones seeing and paying the energy bills. You’re most likely to have success implementing your efficiency efforts and controlling costs when operations, maintenance, finance and accounting teams work together.
If possible, consulting with an outside expert in managing and analyzing energy data can be especially helpful for organizations with small teams and few internal resources.
Establish a Benchmark
Next up, you have to establish a benchmark for your facilities’ energy usage. With an understanding of where operations are today, a business can determine when and how they’re using energy, as well as the impact on energy costs. From here, a real-time monitoring program can be implemented to help identify opportunities for efficiency improvements, benchmark usage before improvements, and verify the impact of these improvements.
Lastly, it’s essential that anyone responsible for their company’s energy decisions understands the energy bill.
About half of a company’s energy bill is driven by its energy demand. Demand is the measurement of the largest interval of power used during the billing period. Consumption, on the other hand, is a measurement of the total quantity of power you use during the billing period. The demand your organization is billed for represents the peak amount of power used at any one time during the billing period. Energy efficiency efforts help save organizations money by lowering the demand required to run a facility.
Whether you face unpredictable winter storms that require massive energy consumption to keep facilities warm or your region of the U.S. experiences a balmy excuse for a winter, being able to flex energy load through efficiency solutions is one of the simplest ways to reduce energy spend.
—Brent Rice is a meteorologist and senior analyst with IGS Energy.