In our last installment, we talked about how utility bills tell a story. Those stories are great, but many times can be delayed up to 45 days from the start of the billing cycle. Weather and usage could vary a lot in 45 days. In addition, the utility bill never breaks down usage to days or time of day. To get that level of depth, smart meters or submeters are needed.
Smart meters are relatively new in the commercial arena and fill a couple of functions. They record usage every 15 minutes and send that information wirelessly to the utility company. As a result you know usage every 15 minutes instead of once per month. Smart meters vary on how detailed a breakdown they give, but they give instantaneous feedback to you.
Submetering does much the same as a smart meter, but also allows for individual sections of your business or specific equipment to be monitored. Maybe you have a very costly-to-operate piece of equipment, like a large dust collector, and you want to know how much energy it uses. A submeter will tell you exactly what’s going on for that particular piece of equipment.
Three advantages of using this metering technology are:
- Smart meters and submeters give a detailed view of what’s going on, at the building level or for specific pieces of equipment. Instead of guessing about what parts of the business are most costly, these meters give detailed information.
- Smart and sub meters make it easier to spot trends. Instead of just seeing the usage for a month, a smart / sub meter can give a daily, hourly or sub-hourly breakdown and allow you to see a trend based on data with much higher resolution (i.e. electricity spiking at 5am when plant should be shut down).
- Smart/sub meters can provide urgent information about impending problems. If you are approaching your demand limit (go here for more info about your demand charge), some meters can give you an alert. Or if a piece of equipment has a significant spike in power level, that might mean it is failing or has a problem. These meters can give you those details and a heads-up that enables you to take action before it becomes a major shutdown.
These meters have proved to be valuable assets for some of our clients. Have you used either sub or smart meters? What are some of the wins?