PHOTO CREDIT: Eaton
Today, every business is driven to improve system efficiency. Electrical power makes up nearly half of energy expenditures across all industries, eclipsing petroleum, natural gas and coal. Thus, finding ways to control energy costs is a key proponent of helping businesses stay competitive.
However, it can be hard to change energy habits – and even harder to verify energy management expenditures or program success without first understanding how power is being used within specific building processes. Take a look at these tips to get started:
1) Consolidate energy data using gateways
Quantifying and analyzing energy consumption can be used to identify an effective energy management strategy and to validate if it is working. Intelligent metering devices allow personnel to view in-depth energy data, however users are still required to tap into information on a device-by-device basis.
If data needs to be manually collected and organized for assessment, it can become very difficult to create a comprehensive view of facility energy usage. This important process can be simplified by utilizing devices called gateways. These flexible data aggregation solutions provide a way to collect electrical parameters and aggregate data from electrical equipment like meters, relays, and circuit breaker trip units into a system that can be monitored and managed more easily.
2) Take a deeper look into power systems
Simply having power data on a specific circuit or load from the meter does not provide all the information required to manage power consumption across a system or facility.
By applying gateways to monitor energy data from specific systems, it becomes easier to single out specific pieces of energy-hogging equipment. The status of all connected devices is available within a single dashboard, making checking health and performance quick and easy. Not only is information easily accessible through any web browser, which also enables remote monitoring, but there are also additional features available that can speed up installation and lower integration costs through plug-and-play connectivity.
3) Use historical data as a baseline
Without a historical view into energy usage, it is incredibly difficult to gauge the progress of energy management programs or to accurately measure success.
For example, if investment is made in improved HVAC controls during the spring, it can be difficult to justify the expenditure over the following summer months when cooling systems are relied on more heavily. So, without waiting an entire year to compare data, how can a building manager tap into electrical system data to prove the impact of energy efficiency investments?
Gateway devices help users generate and export activity logs based on alarm history or device data in table, graph or chart format using historical data. As a result, users can easily access year-over-year statistics for specific systems to verify the impact of energy efficiency improvements.
Although most facilities include equipment from multiple manufacturers, many gateways use open communication architecture and create a unified view of power systems. This ability allows facility managers to collect power and energy data from a variety of equipment and access that information from a single point and provides a means to store historical data for in-depth analysis.
Providing additional value, gateways can be applied in a scaled approach to grow along with your business – with cost-effective expansion as savings from energy management program efforts are reinvested.
Rick Schear is product manager for Eaton.
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