Reducing Utility Costs in the Summer begins with Monitoring Energy Use

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(This article is part of the Roadmap 2 Summer Series. Click here to read last week’s article.)

Commercial building owners and managers know that summer typically brings much higher utility bills. But what you may not know is that even simple changes can have a big impact on your utility bills. There are many ways to improve your building’s energy efficiency and save costs, and it all starts with monitoring.

Monitoring your building’s performance, energy use and other key performance indicators (KPIs) presents a significant opportunity for energy savings. Monitoring and analyzing the data produced by your building and its systems is key to understanding what your saving opportunities are and how you can capitalize on them.

If you’re unsure about where to start, Trane is here to be your full-service partner — from monitoring to analyzing data to implementing improvements.

What’s going on?

Monitoring gives you visibility into what’s going on in your building and how systems and equipment are performing. It also lets you keep an eye on your critical KPIs, which may include occupant comfort, electricity demand, energy use, and building temperature and humidity ranges. One of the first steps in monitoring is to establish a baseline of building energy consumption for comparison. In the summer, a building’s primary energy consumption is electricity, so that’s a good place to start.

Because demand charges from utility companies are typically more extreme in the summer, managing demand can provide real financial value for you in the summer — and potentially all year long. For many commercial customers, monthly demand charges in the summer can cost more than actual energy usage. Charges can sometimes make up 60 or even 70 percent of a monthly utility bill.

It is not uncommon for utility companies to bill demand on a monthly basis, based on the peak demand from the previous month. Some may also include a ratchet clause, which is an extra charge that bills for the entire year based on a building’s peak demand. Utilities measure your power draw in 15-minute intervals, and the peak demand is based on the highest 15-minute window. This means energy in the late afternoon is typically much more expensive than at midnight, for example.

Get the most out of your BAS

Monitoring demand — and then managing it in a way to better control costs — is done through a building automation system (BAS). With a BAS you can monitor and measure usage and demand in real time. Understanding when the demand peaks occur helps you shift building load to times of day when energy is less expensive. This is also called load shedding.

Monitoring building performance with a BAS can also help you see potential issues before they become problems, which is important for maintaining occupant comfort. For many commercial buildings, occupant comfort is a top priority all year long because keeping tenants happy can be critical to the bottom line.

Your BAS is the gateway to additional energy management solutions from Trane. We have the tools and expertise to help you identify when and how your building is using energy. We can also help you analyze the data and turn it into meaningful information that uncovers opportunities to save money and reduce energy consumption.

It’s important to ensure you’re maximizing the capabilities of your BAS. Many building owners and managers only utilize a small portion of the features their BAS is capable of providing. With the right partner, you can take advantage of the full range of capabilities your BAS offers — for optimized efficiency and building and system performance.

Monitoring important KPIs in your building is an opportunity for significant savings. Trane is a partner that not only understands how your building operates — it also has the expertise to analyze that information and then help you implement energy management solutions that drive efficiency and help lower costs.

Join us next week when we discuss preparing for power disruption, so you can keep your cool no matter the situation this summer.

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