Energy Baselining through IoT Energy Management System
Updated: May 28
It is the goal of an increasing number of industrial establishments to become pro-environment by embracing renewable sources of energy and investing in energy-saving systems. Well, they also want their energy bills to pinch them a little less each time they receive them.
While setting such goals is justified in its own right, it is equally necessary to understand that it's time to incorporate good energy management into our daily practices, not just when we're paying for it.
This is where establishing a baseline for energy consumption becomes really important. Any building or facility must have a detailed account of its energy consumption trends before it can evaluate its performance and plan ahead. Energy data should be continuously monitored, measured and converted into actionable information. And any future energy-related efforts must be assessed relative to this ‘energy baseline’.
WHAT IS AN ENERGY BASELINE?
An energy baseline determines the amount of energy used in a building or facility over a prescribed time period, preferably 2 years (minimum 1 year), so that both seasonal and annual trends become visible. The aim of establishing a baseline is to define a reference point to measure and compare energy performance before and after a change is made to the building or facility. The baseline captures the ‘before’ by summing up the total energy use during the time period taken into consideration.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BASELINING
Let’s look at a realistic scenario here. If your building’s energy use continues to be in excess of what you thought your bill would reflect, it means there might be scope to regulate equipment run time or upgrade your lighting, heating and cooling systems. You’ll be interested in finding out what changes will be most cost-effective. And after implementing those changes to address the problem areas, you’ll want to determine how much energy you saved and if your performance really improved.
If you’re an energy manager (even if you’re not), then you know that this cannot be done without reliable figures of past energy consumption. Energy performance indicators (EnPIs) need to be identified and passed on to the management for carrying out corrective measures.
Therefore, creating an accurate baseline is essential to conduct performance reviews and measure the effectiveness of any strategy aimed at improving energy-related operations.
WHAT COMPRISES AN ACCURATE BASELINE?
Developing an accurate energy baseline calls for various steps which help in assessing the data and creating a strong foundation for improvement.
The basic step, at the facility or at the equipment level is to find out how, when, and where energy is being consumed. This includes all forms of energy that might be in use - electricity, oil, gas and any other fuels. Data collection must be thorough and complete for enabling detailed analysis and target setting. It should be put into organized spreadsheets and graphs on a daily or even hourly basis.
When defining the baseline, The ISO 50001 standard for energy management says it is desirable to choose a typical production year, one that makes it easier to set up relevant APIs.
Keeping track of non-energy related data and accounting for relevant variables is the next and perhaps the most important step in creating a reliable baseline. Energy usage varies widely for reasons other than energy efficiency of equipment and operations such as weather, work staff, and organizational culture. For industries, these variables are product type and production process whereas for commercial buildings these include area, hours of operation, climate zone, and occupancy levels. Normalizing the data for estimation becomes essential here. Normalization is the process of eliminating these variables on energy use that impact the energy performance of facilities and operations.
Quick note: Due to organizational complexity or the rigour of the process itself, your baseline may still suffer from some degree of inaccuracy that can mislead you while assessing your energy performance. So how can you avoid this? Through an IoT Energy Management System (EnMs).
THE ROLE OF IOT EnMS IN ENERGY BASELINING
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way energy is being looked at by industries and unfolding new avenues for efficient energy management.
An IoT EnMS enables tracking of energy consumption in real-time, by connecting sensors, meters, lighting and HVAC systems to create a digital energy ecosystem. The flow of all energy information is updated to the cloud, where users can access and analyze data from anywhere in the world. With this intuitive, automated technology, you can precisely measure your facility’s performance and rule out chances of error in establishing an energy baseline.
Enerlly IoT EnMS provides a comprehensive solution that enables you to take complete control of your energy data at the building, even the equipment level. When your energy use is monitored at such a granular level, the baselining process becomes easy.
If you would like to find out how a baseline energy analysis can help you save energy, get in touch with one of our experts today.