7 Reasons You Need More Granular Energy Data

Amy Hou  |  January 14, 2020   |  Data & Technology  |  Energy & Sustainability  


2020 marks the start of a new decade, and there’s never been a better time to take a second look at your energy strategy. If you’re working with the bare minimum of energy data, your reporting will be bare minimum, too. Without granular energy data, your energy initiatives will hit a ceiling. It’s time to break through. 

What’s your data missing?

If you’re the average energy manager, you probably have a decent handle on your energy data. You know how much your organization consumes and spends each month, you have a way to visualize those usage patterns, and you’re able to track how much your initiatives are saving year over year. 

But do you actually have all the information you need? Among most large organizations, the energy management department and the AP department need similar data to track energy usage and pay off energy bills. Oftentimes, the company ends up using the same source of data to meet the needs of both departments, which could entail anything from paper bills to a full-blown utility bill management system. 

The dataset from accounting is missing the majority of data points available on your utility bills.

The dataset used for utility bill payment may seem sufficient for most energy managers: it shows you total monthly usage, total spend, and total charges. In reality, though, this dataset mirrors the EDI dataset, which has its drawbacks. It’s missing the majority of data points available on your utility bills – data points that would advance your energy management strategy to the next level. 

Why you need granular energy data

Let’s take a look at the types of initiatives you could execute with more granular energy data:

1. Demand response

In order to perform demand response, you need data points like time-of-use charges and peak demand charges. Peak demand charges can make up 20 to 50 percent of your total charges. That means even concerted effort on reducing total consumption likely has less of an impact on reducing cost than simply shaving peak demand. 

For instance, if you find out demand usage peaks at 2 pm every day, you can shift to an alternate power source for that hour. With granular energy data, you can find simple fixes that make a huge impact on energy costs.

2. Calendarization and weather normalization

Before you can make accurate comparisons between months or seasons, you need to standardize your data; otherwise, you’ll be comparing apples to oranges. Utility billing periods often start and end in the middle of the month, so you need calendarization to build an accurate month-to-month analysis. 

That’s where granular energy data comes in. Once you’re able to see specific charge dates for each usage period, you can normalize your data to the months or seasons you want to analyze. 

3. Vacant buildings

Identifying vacant buildings that your organization no longer owns or occupies is one of the quickest ways to reduce costs. And without granular energy data, you might not have the visibility you need to find them. 

Using data points like service address and PoD (point-of-delivery) ID, one of the world’s largest cable providers found several buildings it no longer owned yet was still paying energy bills for, amounting to $3 million a year in recurring costs saved. 

4. True cost analysis

When it comes to large utility accounts, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint a building or unit’s cost per kWh or cost per therm without first excluding tax charges and utility recovery charges. 

With these data points isolated, you can uncover the true cost per additional unit of usage for the buildings and units you manage, which is the only accurate baseline for energy reduction initiatives. 

5. Dual billing

Dual billing produces a unique challenge for energy analysis. Especially important for energy procurement, in order to better understand the costs of one energy supplier over another, you need to separate charges from the supplier and the distributor. 

6. Tariff analysis

Likewise pivotal to strategic energy sourcing, you won’t be able to evaluate the savings achieved from switching to a new tariff if you can’t verify that the utility is charging you on the right rate. That tariff information is visible on the original utility bill and should be visible in your energy management system. 

7. Occupant engagement

Getting building occupants, whether that be tenants or employees, engaged in energy conservation initiatives can go a long way toward enhancing the impact of your efforts. One way to do so is to show occupants what they’re consuming and challenge them to change their habits. 

Building dashboards like this requires meter-level data, to decentralize total usage patterns down to the complex, building, or floor. Then, occupants can see how their energy consumption stacks up against other teams or residents. 

It’s time for an upgrade

Are you missing some of these data points in your energy management system? If so, you’re limiting yourself from deeper energy analysis, more advanced energy strategy, and ultimately more savings. 

Urjanet automates the collection and delivery of utility bill data, preserving every data point on the bill. Our utility data feeds can integrate into any system or dashboard, so that you can get easy access to the granular energy data you need. 

This is your year: don’t settle for less than what you deserve. Contact us to learn more about how the Urjanet Utility Data Platform can help you.

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.

Tags   Data Quality   |   Energy Data   |   Energy Management   |   Energy Procurement   |   Energy Reporting   |   Urjanet   |   Utility Data   |