Most customers know they can reduce their energy cost by taking advantage of utility incentives to use less power during peak demand periods and by avoiding power factor charges and the like. But when your company has many office buildings, some that house data centers, and perhaps some freestanding data centers and manufacturing plants, it is complex to say the least to get your arms around usage data for the company as a whole.
Typically customers take a blended rate approach, meaning they simply guestimate a flat rate through some quick analysis to calculate the spend per kilowatt-hour. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. You could save energy by reducing usage in various areas, but still pay demand charges and power factor charges that contribute a significant amount to the overall bill. What’s required is a change in behavior to avoid those extra charges.
The trick lies in finding those areas that are ripe for behavioral changes that’ll result in real savings. You can try to use spreadsheets to tally up usage data in various areas, as many do, but you’ll find the task requires complex formulas and the data is difficult to mine and analyze – in short, you’re not likely to get a very accurate outcome.
But imagine if you could instrument all of your buildings – data centers, office space, manufacturing plants and all the rest – to send usage data to a cloud-based application that requires no on site resources or additional infrastructure to support. This application would collect data from all your sites, aggregate and cleanse it, to get rid of spikes and gaps, then analyze and make sense of it all.
Then you could view the data in any number of ways. Data center operators would naturally want to look at their usage patterns but a VP or CFO on the business side could also get more of a macro view of a group of buildings or the company as a whole.
That’s the kind of environment Schneider Electric has created with its StruxureWare Energy Online platform. Now energy managers can view data from all of their buildings as a whole. They can see how usage and consumption breaks down, and where they need to focus time on improving efficiency. Schneider also provides tools that show what the effect of changes will be, in terms of savings in dollars, Euros or other denominations. So companies can easily see which changes will result in the most savings.
The platform also takes into account which tariffs companies are paying (and whether they make the most sense), and any savings to be had by changing behavior to take advantage of savings from non-peak usage periods. In that sense, it’ll point you to lots of “freebies” – savings you can realize with no investment in new equipment, just by changing processes or behavior. Maybe a multinational company can share computing loads with facilities around the globe to take advantage of the lower rates by time of day. Or a company with just a single building may find that cycling the HVAC systems at different times of day result in big savings. If there are savings to be had, StruxureWare Energy Online will help find them.