To reduce energy costs, manufacturers and commercial businesses must first understand that they can manage energy consumption only after they monitor and understand energy usage.
If you’re interested in reducing energy costs, here are five tips that will help you get started:
1. Get buy-in from the top.
It’s easy to switch to LED light bulbs or raise the temperature on the A/C, but real energy management is going to require support from the top. How do you sell energy monitoring at the highest levels of your organization?
Think about your everyday office supplies—pens, paper, staplers, etc. Good office and purchasing managers keep track of these things and how much is being used.
If you’re a manufacturer, do you indiscriminately spend on plastic, solder, aluminum, or any of the other raw materials needed for production? No—you seek out best pricing, avoid waste, and tie the cost of raw materials to the individual product.
Why isn’t energy accounted for in the same way? Right now, it’s not. Power bills typically go straight to personnel in accounts payable, who don’t ask questions but simply cut checks. Even if managers look at a power bill, the bill shows no detail on when or where energy was used.
Increasingly, utility companies are pricing energy based on the time of day it is used or penalizing customers who exceed a maximum threshold during the billing period. And energy costs overall are rising to meet rising demand.
Utility companies are also offering incentives to customers who agree to reduce usage under certain conditions. In fact, these new developments in pricing and demand-response offer savvy companies significant ways to improve their bottom line, just by paying closer attention to energy usage and costs.
Some larger businesses are creating new positions in their companies with titles like "energy manager" and "vice president of sustainability." Individuals in these positions view energy not as a fixed cost, but as one that can be managed to the company’s benefit.
Though the return on investment will be evident later, investing in understanding your energy usage now is well worthwhile.