There are hundreds of “listicle” articles out there with information on how you can cut energy costs: “7 things you can do to save money and energy,” “20 Things You Can Do to Save Energy,” etc. They are filled with great advice, mostly tactical, that should be followed: retro-commissioning, HVAC systems optimization, energy management / building automation system use – the list goes on. These are all correct and necessary to cut energy costs in a significant way. The problem with this approach, however, is that it glosses over (at best) or completely ignores (at worst) the most crucial piece of the entire puzzle, the prerequisite without which most energy reduction efforts are doomed: utility data.

Why is utility data so key to cutting energy costs? Utility bill and interval data are the bedrock, the solid foundation on which every other energy and sustainability initiative is based. Think about what it means to cut energy costs: It means there’s a baseline measurement of how much energy is being consumed and how much it costs, which you will put resources behind to lower. This is a deceptively simple idea that hides a boatload of complexity.

What’s your baseline, really?

How do you know what your baseline usage and cost is? What does measurement and establishment of a baseline look like? It’s different for every business. Some have relatively simple energy consumption profiles, but have hundreds or thousands of separate utility accounts, each of which need to be reviewed and tracked. Others have relatively few facilities and / or separate utility accounts, but within each facility the energy use is extremely complex. Many are probably somewhere in between.

In each case, energy management software can help with the analytics and establishment of baselines, but where does the data come from that fuels such an analysis? Yes, hardware can be installed (a not inexpensive endeavor) that can track granular usage real-time. But there’s a data source that already exists without any additional hardware, that not only provides current insights but historical as well and scales with your business: utility bill and interval meter data.

Do you know the whole story?

But once you have the right data flowing and can measure a baseline, how do you know which of your energy efficiency investments reduce energy costs the most, and in which market, in which facility? How do you make sense of regional energy pricing differences, with different tariff and rate structures? How do you know if it might make more sense to invest in renewables from an ROI perspective?

The only way to do so is to have a complete data set that tells the whole story. You need to be able to look at energy consumption alongside your tariff so you have the context necessary to understand the true effectiveness of energy efficiency investments and smart procurement strategies. Utility bill data tells this story in a powerful way, because it provides that data all in one place.

Data that’s usable and useful

But the real challenge, the thing that makes this whole process so difficult, is that businesses need this data at scale for all utility accounts, but then need it all rolled up so it can actually be used for analysis – without losing any of the richness of the source data. It needs to be flat (read: usable) and 3D (fidelity to the source, even with all the complexity inherent in utility billing) at the same time.

If 2017 is the year your organization wants to get serious about cutting energy costs, considering a solution like Urjanet’s Utility Data Service is the best way to fast track those efforts. Go on the offense and get the data you need to be energy efficiency rockstars. Be the hero who implements a solution that will revolutionize the way you understand – and reduce – your organization’s energy consumption and cost. Urjanet is here to provide the data you need to blow out your energy goals this year. Make this the best “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day” ever by contacting us to learn how we can help you.