How To Set Energy Alarms That Will Save You Thousands
Are costly energy bills getting you down? Setting energy alarms can help you to take control of your energy use and save thousands in the process.
Following this approach has helped Surple customers save tens of thousands of pounds annually.
Just check out what Ross Cudlipp, the energy manager at Newport City Council, had to say.
Surple’s software solution would improve any organisation’s energy efficiency strategy. We’ve already identified savings in excess of £30,000 a year and are expecting to save even more in the future.Ross Cudlipp
Newport City Council
What are energy alarms I hear you ask? An energy alarm is simply a helpful tool for identifying unexpectedly high energy use before it’s too late.
This guide will walk you through the process of applying an energy alarm to a meter, step-by-step.
Setting an energy alarm on a meter
Step #1. Calculate the meter’s baseload energy consumption
A meter’s baseload is the minimum amount of energy it has consumed in a half-hour period between two dates.
It’s a useful value in energy management because it can give energy managers a target to aim for.
Historically, many energy managers would perform baseload analysis using a tool like Excel.
But with energy management software like Surple, it can be achieved in seconds.
As you can see above, calculating a meter’s baseload is simple in Surple. Just click the calculator icon, choose baseload from the dropdown, select the meter you’re interested in, and press apply. That’s it.
The non-operational baseload in the example above is approximately 96 kWh.
By default, Surple will calculate a meter’s baseload from all of the data it has in the system for that meter.
However, you can enter a custom date range for your analysis if you like. This is useful if you know for sure that a building renovation has caused the minimum energy consumption of your site to increase.
As an example, say you owned a hotel and last year had a swimming pool installed. In this scenario, it would be no good calculating your baseload using dates from before the installation because your energy use will realistically never be that low again. Therefore, you’d want to calculate your baseload using dates after the installation.
When running baseload analysis, we’d recommend using at least a month’s worth of energy data.
Step #2. Determine the meter’s average energy consumption
Next up we’re going to calculate the average energy consumption of the meter.
This isn’t an essential step, but it will help you to understand the potential savings you could see as a result of the energy alarm.
Calculating average consumption in Surple is very similar to calculating baseload. As the image below demonstrates, simply click the calculator button, select average, select the meter you’re interested in and press apply.
As you can see in the above example, there’s quite a big difference between the meter’s baseload and average consumption.
This difference is ultimately the savings potential of the meter in question.
For an idea of how much the savings could actually be worth financially, take a look at the calculations below.
Potential Savings Example
Let’s say the meter we’ve been working with represents the mains meter of a hotel building.
And for simplicities sake, let’s pretend its baseload and average doesn’t differ slightly every 30 minutes like in the images above.
Let’s say it stays constant in non-operational hours (09:00 – 17:30).
Non-operational baseload = 96 kWh Non-operational average = 108 kWh Non-operational 30 minute periods each day = 31 Price per kWh = £0.14 Savings potential every 30 minutes = 108 - 96 = 12 kWh Daily kWh savings = 12 x 31 = 372 kWh Annual kWh savings = 372 x 365 = 135,780 kWh Daily GBP savings = 372 x 0.14 = £52.08 Annual GBP savings = 135780 x 0.14 = £19,009.20
There you have it. Keeping on top of the energy consumption of this one meter using energy alarms could save up to £52.08 each day and a staggering £19,009.20 each year.
And remember, this is only the potential saving that could be seen by reducing the energy consumption of one hotel building. Imagine the savings that could be seen by a hotel chain with hundreds of similar buildings.
Step #3. Create your first energy alarm
Now that you have your baseload at hand and you know that the meter has a decent savings potential, it’s time to create your first energy alarm.
You can create as many energy alarms as you feel necessary. But, I’d recommend starting with at least one alarm that will be triggered if a meter’s consumption exceeds a specific value in non-operational hours.
Remember you can update your site’s operating hours by navigating to the Sites page and clicking the edit button next to a site in the list.
Let’s walk through the process of creating your first energy alarm.
Head to the Alarms page and click the + New button in the corner of the alarms panel.
Give your alarm a name and select the metric of the meter you want to alarm (electricity, spend, carbon etc.).
A single interval alarm is going to be the most useful for this exercise but Surple does support another type of energy alarm called an aggregate alarm.
On the next page, select the meter you’re interested in, leave the Day setting to Every Day and select Non-Operational hours from the dropdown.
Now for the threshold, we need to refer back to the results of our baseload analysis.
As you can see the baseload for this meter in non-operational hours is about 96 kWh. It’s worth giving a small amount of breathing room on the alarm to avoid constant notifications. So for this example let’s set it as 97 kWh.
Press submit, and you’re good to go. You’ve just created your first energy alarm.
From now on, you’ll receive in-platform and email notifications when the meter uses more than 97 kWh of electricity outside of operating hours. Then, you can act accordingly and put an end to the waste.
Typical reasons for an alarm triggering can include a member of staff leaving a light on or a fault with a piece of electrical equipment.
Step #4. Repeat for all of your meters
In the example above, we set an energy alarm on a meter’s electricity usage in non-operational hours.
But remember, the more coverage you have with your energy alarms, the more energy waste you can prevent and the more money you can save.
We’d recommend repeating steps 1 – 3 to create non-operational energy alarms for most of your meters. It might even be worth creating some alarms for usage within operating hours for meters where you think it’s applicable.
Step #5 [Optional]. Take advantage of Surple’s anomaly detection service
If you’re worried about unexpected energy use costing you a fortune, it might be worth using our anomaly detection service. You can turn it on from the bottom of the Alarms page.
When it’s live, Surple will use machine-learning to automatically alert you of unexpected energy consumption based on your historical usage patterns. It’s a great way of identifying faulty equipment or careless behaviour without needing to create alarms yourself.
Unexpected energy use identified by Surple’s anomaly detection service will appear as a red bar on the Analytics page as you can see in the image above. You’ll also receive email notifications.
Expensive energy bills can be frustrating, especially when costs only seem to increase month on month.
By setting relevant energy alarms, though, you can take back control of your energy use and save thousands in the process.
For more advice on managing your business energy use, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Energy Management by clicking the link below.
Keep reading: Ultimate Guide to Energy Management »