Energy management is a growing practice among large companies. Successful energy management requires detailed information on how the energy is being used; however, this information is not available in facilities which are not actively being monitored. For proper energy management, it is necessary for facility managers to understand how and where energy is being consumed.
Energy efficiency is the first step in achieving sustainability in buildings and helps to control increasing energy costs while reducing environmental footprints. An energy management system (EMS) can provide metering, submetering and monitoring functions that allow facility managers to gather data that allows them to make more informed decisions about energy use.
1. What is Submetering?
Submetering is the installation of metering devices with the ability to measure energy usage after the primary utility meter. Submetering offers the ability to monitor energy usage for individual tenants, departments, pieces of equipment or other loads individually to account for their actual energy usage. With submetering, a clear and accurate picture of how and when energy is being consumed inside a facility is created.
Submeters are physical metering devices that monitor electricity, gas, water and other utilities. Utilities sell services and use utility grade meters to gather this information; submeters mirror this data collection for companies that install them. Submetering provides facility managers with the measurement capability to better control energy usage in a building.
2. What are the Benefits of Submetering?
- Accurate energy monitoring, real-time energy consumption
- Granular in-depth review of facility energy data
- Better informed to make decisions that can help optimize energy performance
- Ability to record actual energy usage (no estimates)
- Comparison of usage across similar facilities over time
- Ability to identify and eliminate wasted energy
- Early access to maintenance issues for repair before critical equipment fails
It is critical that the efficient control of energy usage be executed in a manner that minimizes energy consumption while properly maintaining a building's environment and functionality.
3. Common Submetering Applications
Peak Demand Management
One of the easiest ways to lose control of electricity costs is by what utilities refer to as "Peak Demand" charges. In this situation, a utility will charge a greater cost per kWh when demand is greater in order to prevent all consumers from maximum consumption during these peak times. The utility company argues that the grid must be able to support each customer's max consumption, therefore the grid must be built in order to support each customer getting charged based on their max kW rate. The strategy is that by increasing the cost per kWh, consumers will shift their usage to off-peak and reduce the chance that the grid reaches dangerous capacity levels. Submeters allow the end user to receive detailed consumption information, which allows the customer to avoid cost increases with time-of-usage billing and to take advantage of off-peak rates.
In non-submetered commercial and residential buildings, tenants are typically billed on square footage of rented space. In this scenario, the landlord receives an electrical bill for the entire facility and bills each tenant based on the amount of space they rent. The problem here is that tenants are not billed based on consumption behavior, but rather they are billed based on the total consumption of the rest of the tenants. Tenant submetering allows each tenant to be billed only for the energy consumed within the rented space.
Energy Cost Allocation
When rising energy costs and a greater emphasis on energy efficiency, all types of facilities are looking to better understand their consumption and what is driving increased electrical bills. Submetering gives the user the ability to monitor individual equipment, so that energy costs can be allocated to different departments and processes. By using this data, energy costs can be allocated to each department or process, giving management a better understanding of the true costs associated.
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