Best Practices for Utility Data Management
Energy data management can seem like an overwhelming task to face. Many energy managers even struggle to get to the higher-level, strategic aspects of their job, simply because they’re bogged down in the daily work of collecting and organizing the data they need. But no more: we’re here to help. By following these key best practices, energy managers can get an easy handle on their energy data and spend more time driving savings and results. Let’s start with utility data management.
Utility data management is the first step
Utility data is the foundation to successful energy management. There’s a large amount of data needed to reach energy efficiency goals, and the old adage hasn’t lost any truth over time: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. The problem, though, is that in a world where companies are growing and expanding their presence with multinational operating facilities, measuring energy usage across the organization gets more and more complex. That’s why centralized utility data is crucial. With a single source of utility data across all facilities and all geographies, energy managers no longer need to sort through disparate bill formats and delivery periods. An automated platform can streamline utility data management and make everyone’s lives easier.
What successful utility data management can accomplish
Is it really worth investing in utility data management? What does a thriving energy program look like? Let’s take a look at the goals that can be easily accomplished with successful energy data management.
Measuring and forecasting usage – Before energy managers can set, much less try to meet, energy reduction goals, they need to start with a solid benchmark of current usage. That’s where energy data management comes in. By investing in complete, accurate energy data feeds, facility managers can report on progress toward energy goals with confidence. Then, they can take historical data and use it to forecast usage for future months.
Modifying energy strategy – The next step after gathering and analyzing data is to inform strategy based upon it. Are certain facilities consuming more than others? Does one have an outstanding bill for its size? That’s the place to zero in first and make changes, such as shifting operations to off-peak hours and upgrading machinery.
Meeting renewable energy targets – Finally, monitoring current energy usage is an important step in meeting renewables targets. It’s nearly impossible to cost-effectively bring your organization or department to 100 percent renewable if you don’t also reduce its overall consumption. Make your company an industry leader in clean energy adoption by incorporating a data-driven strategy.
The types of energy data you need
Now, utility data management involves more than just auditing and streamlining the data sources you already have. It’s also about making sure that you’ve gathered all the sources you need. Utility data management is an important foundation, but it’s not always enough to get clear and timely insights into usage across the organization. These three data sources together paint a complete picture for energy management:
Monthly invoice data – As we’ve discussed, monthly invoice data covers the basics. How much is each facility consuming each month? Which sites are costing the most per square unit or per capita? How has energy usage and spend trended over the past several months or years?
Whole building interval data –Interval data gets more granular. Most of the largest utilities have submeters installed that can give you insight into which times of day – down to the hour or even minute – are displaying the highest levels of usage and spend. This allows energy managers to quickly and easily identify how to shift consumption toward off-peak hours and lower demand charges.
Real-time submeter data – Real-time data is the holy grail. It can be cost-prohibitive to get submeters installed at every location, but if you need to make energy decisions in real time, and you want to respond rapidly to changes, real-time data is what you need.
Qualities to look for in energy data
Not all energy data sources are created equal. Having access to the right data is important, but you also need to be able to trust in the data you’re getting. To be fully confident in your utility data management, you’ll want to ensure that your data is:
Accurate – Depending on how you’re collecting energy data, you might have some data quality issues. Manual data entry invariably results in human error. OCR (optical character recognition) is also far from a proven science. You want energy data that is automated and audited for quality and accuracy, so you can trust in the results you’re reporting.
Complete – Once again, depending on your sources, your data could be missing data points or even entire bills. A typical utility bill can contain up to 120 data points, so if you’re not seeing the full detail in your data, you’re not making the most informed decisions you could be.
Timely – Time is of the essence in energy management. Waiting on bills to arrive in the mail is time that you can’t spare, which is why you need fast data delivery, and preferably real-time or near real-time information. Automated utility data can deliver bills as soon as they’re available from the utility.
Find the right partners
If you only have a few accounts in one geographic area, you might be able to handle utility data management on your own. But beyond that, you need help to make sure you’re spending your valuable time where it’s needed the most, and not on the tedious work of utility data management. Several industry-leading software and service providers are out there to help you manage and visualize your utility data. You can also get direct access to automated utility data through a platform like Urjanet. Either way, you don’t have to handle all of your utility data management alone. We’re here to help.
To learn more about how Urjanet can help you streamline utility data management, chat with us today.
You may also like:
- Beyond the Bill: Refining Your Energy Management Program with Interval Data
- 7 Reasons Poor Data Quality Is Like Your Crazy Ex
- The Practical Guide to Transforming Energy Data into Better Buildings
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About Urjanet Inc
Urjanet, the global leader in utility data aggregation, simplifies how organizations access and use utility data, enabling them to focus on their business. Our technology collects, processes, and delivers data from over 6,500 electric, natural gas, water, waste, telecom, and cable utilities worldwide.