Energy is in the news more frequently than ever and it is here to stay. Josh Kirk, Head of Marketing at Pilot Group, looks at energy management, from the terminology and where to start, to the technology that can be implemented to generate savings and reduce energy consumption.

What do we mean by energy management?

Well, it can depend on who you talk to and what their focus is.  It can be tough to find a starting point when talking about energy management as the topic is so vast but if we use the goal of saving energy as the focal point of the conversation it gives us a clearer path.

In general, energy management can mean monitoring, controlling and analysing your energy usage to then use the information you have collected to optimise and lower your overall consumption. This can simply mean looking at monthly or quarterly bills from your provider and making reactive changes, all the way up to implementing a system that controls this for you proactively.

Where should I start with energy management?

Start by monitoring your energy consumption if you don’t have a reference point it is very difficult to gauge if any changes you make are successful. The simplest way you can do this if you don’t have any technology already in place is by asking your energy provider for your half-hourly electricity bills.  Most businesses will have meters with this capability and it allows you to look at not only how much you are consuming but when.

If you know the operations of your business, it then allows you to question the peaks and the timings of your consumption. Are you using more energy than makes sense outside of operating hours?  Do some days have much larger spikes in use than others?

This should be enough information to make a start on a few tweaks to lower your energy consumption but if it doesn’t, or you want to take it a step further, you can install energy monitoring equipment.  Equipment like this comes in a number of ways, it could be sub-metering, an energy monitoring platform and/or sensors across your property that give you more in-depth data on what area or item is consuming power at any given time.

The next steps for managing your energy

Now that you have a baseline and data that you’ve analysed, you can start to make data-driven adjustments and operational changes to better manage your energy and lower your consumption.  There could be some quick wins that you notice where equipment or machinery is being left on out of hours and putting a process in place or a control strategy with a piece of technology like an energy management system could help

There could also be behavioural change aspects that you see huge benefits from and that cost nothing but these can be difficult to implement.  It often means getting your team really engaged and supporting your mission to lower your energy consumption and carbon footprint.  Some businesses set up team goals, incentives and more.

Josh Headshot

Josh Kirk, Head of Marketing at Pilot Group

How do I control high energy consuming items

One of the best places to start is looking at those high-energy-consuming items and seeing if they are controlled manually, on a timer, or with a central point of control.  It’s often the case that schedules for equipment and heating were set a long time ago and don’t reflect the operational hours of the business and in some cases where they are controlled manually, they get left on constantly.

This is where pieces of technology like an energy management system (EMS) or building energy management system (BEMS) can really help.  These systems vary with some simply pulling all of the consumption data into one place and others allow for better control of your equipment.

One area I have seen a lot of success during my time at Pilot Group is looking at heating. Industrial heaters such as warm air blowers and radiant tubes are often used inefficiently, and the implementation of an EMS has seen gas bills for heating reduced by an average of 40%.  An EMS like Pilot Group’s not only gives you a central point of control for all your heaters (as well as items such as compressors, air conditioners and more), but it also uses smart technology to actively lower your energy consumption.

Expert tip: Check your heater efficiency rating, which is usually found on the service sticker. You could have the best control strategy in the world but if your heater is inefficient, you could be wasting a large amount of energy.

Josh Kirk The Pilot Group

Panel Image

What savings can I expect from an EMS?

A few examples of how a system like an EMS can generate savings are:

  • Switching the burner off in the heater as it gets close to the target temperature but leaving the fan going to blow the residual heat out to reach the target.
  • Adding sensors to roller shutter doors so that the heaters are switched off after a pre-determined set of time sees the amount of wastage reduced.
  • Self-learning where the system learns how long it takes to get up to the target temperature compared to the actual temperature of the space.
  • Pairing with more accurate sensors -default heating sensors are typically accurate to 2 degrees, meaning you could be overshooting your target temperature[MJ(C1] -  on a 20-degree target is an additional 10% cost!
  • Remote access to ensure consumption is at the level you expect but also allowing for changes to be made in any schedules.

Energy efficiency measures to save you money

In summary energy management can mean everything from monitoring and controlling your energy consumption all the way changing behaviour of the people involved in the process. The key starting point, if you are looking to reduce your energy usage, is to get yourself a baseline of what you’re consuming, even if this is just your bills from your energy provider, you’ll need this to know if any changes you make are working.

From here you can look at making operational or technological changes to better control your systems, anything from better processes to more monitoring or even new equipment, andif you have industrial gas heaters, an EMS could significantly help manage their impact.

Next steps for lowering your energy consumption:

  • LED Lighting – It’s something that most people have heard about but if you haven’t taken action yet it can save up to 70% on lighting bills.
  • Lean Process Improvement – For businesses that manufacture their own products, the actual process wasn’t touched on.  Previously the improvement could have been looked at purely from an output perspective but now with energy costs so high, it can be worth another look with energy consumption in mind too.
  • Renewable energy – Once you’ve looked at lowering your energy consumption, technologies like solar or heat pumps could be a viable option to lower your costs further or even help you to become self-sufficient.

For more information about The Pilot Group and their energy management solutions visit their website. 

Share this case study

The Pilot Group

The Pilot Group

The Pilot Group is helping to pave the way towards a carbon neutral future.  

As a leader in smart, safe and sustainable infrastructure solutions, it supports organisations across the UK to accelerate their journey towards net zero.  

Formed in Manchester in 1992, The Pilot Group is a nationwide supplier of disruptive SMART technology solutions, with a focus on sustainability and carbon reduction.  The leading product being their Energy Management System that has a track record of reducing gas consumption by an average of 40% across thousands of installations in the UK.