What is Energy Management? | Therma°
Energy powers our daily lives. From the lights in our homes to the machines that produce the things we use every day. However, energy is a finite resource—and the way that humans have been using it and managing it has led to consequences for the environment and our wallets.
In today’s eco-conscious era, businesses are looking for ways to make operations leaner and greener while cutting down costs and boosting the bottom line. The key strategy in achieving all of these goals is energy management. It’s not just a buzzword but a strategy that can help businesses cut down on costs while reducing their environmental footprint.
What is energy management?
Energy management is optimizing the way we consume and handle energy resources efficiently. It is about finding smarter and more sustainable ways to power our daily lives while minimizing waste and reducing our impact on the environment.
In the business landscape, it is a systematic approach to using energy more wisely. For businesses and organizations, energy management involves best practices aimed at the following:
- controlling energy consumption
- minimizing waste
- improving overall energy performance
- Increasing energy cost savings
This goes beyond just paying the utility bills—it's about proactively managing energy resources to make operations both sustainable and cost-effective.
In essence, you can think of energy management as a game plan for making sure that energy is used wisely. It is not a one-time thing. If implemented correctly, businesses can cut down on costs, use their resources wisely, and make decisions that prioritize the environment.
What are the components of energy management?
To facilitate effective energy management in today’s digital world, there are now tools and strategies that businesses like restaurants can use to save energy and reduce costs.
1. Smart sensors
Imagine if a restaurant had eyes and ears that could instantly pick up when certain equipment isn’t being used and adjust them accordingly to save on energy. This is exactly what smart sensors do.
Smart sensors collect real-time data on energy consumption within a facility. These sensors can measure variables like temperature, humidity, and occupancy. For Heating, Ventilation, and Airconditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration systems, temperature sensors are particularly critical because they enable precise control of heating and cooling processes.
Here’s an example: the sensors can tell if there are no longer any customers at a table or inside a room. Then the lighting, heating, or cooling systems can be adjusted to save energy.
2. Smart thermostats
Smart thermostats are intelligent devices that can adjust the temperature in restaurants and other facilities based on real-time data and pre-programmed schedules. With these devices, energy use is optimized by ensuring that HVAC systems only operate when needed.
Put simply, the heating or cooling systems don’t have to work as hard when it’s not needed. This then helps prevent the systems and equipment from overheating or overcooling—both of which waste significant energy.
Check out this scenario: During a sweltering hot summer day, a smart thermostat can ensure that the air conditioning cools the room just enough to keep your customers comfortable. But when it’s time to close, the smart thermostat can turn down the air conditioning to save energy until it’s time to open again.
3. Data analysis
Data analysis involves specialized software that analyzes the data from smart sensors and thermostats. This involves identifying trends, patterns, and areas of inefficiency so businesses can make data-driven decisions to optimize energy usage and improve overall energy management.
For example, the data might point you to a particular appliance that is using a lot of electricity during peak hours. You can either decide to use it less during peak hours, or replace it with a more energy-efficient model. On the other hand, the appliance may be showing symptoms of equipment failure, and you can have it assessed before it breaks down completely.
How does energy management work?
Just like any systematic process, it involves following a series of steps to make sure you're using energy wisely and efficiently. The process of energy management for businesses like restaurants can be summarized in a few key steps:
Step 1: Data collection
In energy management, collecting data is like gathering ingredients for an awesome recipe. Smart sensors and thermostats continuously collect data on energy consumption and environmental conditions.
Before a business can jump into implementing energy management, it’s important to have a baseline of how much energy they are currently using. That way, they can effectively set their goals and plans.
Step 2: Data analysis
The next step after data gathering is data analysis, or making sense of the raw data. Data analysis means looking at the numbers and figuring out where you can save energy without sacrificing the comfort and quality of your business.
For example, the data might lead you to discover that your refrigeration system is using a lot of energy during certain hours. This insight then helps you pinpoint the specific areas where energy can be saved.
Step 3: Optimization
Similar to adjusting recipes to make them better for your customers, it’s also crucial to keep optimizing energy use. This can be done by making adjustments to their equipment, processes, and systems until you arrive at the best combination possible. This can involve replacing current equipment with eco-friendly options or adjusting heating or cooling schedules to match specific peak or off-peak hours.
Step 4: Monitoring and reporting
Energy management systems provide real-time monitoring and reporting—allowing businesses to track their energy usage and savings over time. Regularly monitoring energy usage helps businesses know whether or not their energy management practices are working. This also shows them any trends and unusual spikes in consumption.
Step 5: Continuous improvement
As mentioned earlier, energy management is not a one-time thing. It really is an ongoing journey towards sustainability. Regular reviews of data and system performance can help businesses fine-tune their energy management strategies to ensure continuous improvements. Depending on their progress, businesses can eventually look for more ways to reduce their carbon footprint even more.
What are the advantages of energy management for businesses?
Energy management is a game-changer for businesses. It offers a ton of compelling reasons to make it a top priority.
1. It helps reduce costs significantly
One of the most tangible benefits of energy management for businesses is the potential for substantial cost savings. When energy consumption is actively monitored and optimized, businesses can identify areas of inefficiency and implement solutions—resulting in lower energy bills and significant annual savings. For businesses with high energy demands, this can help alleviate a substantial part of their expenses. These savings can then be reinvested in the business, whether for expansion, innovation, employee benefits, or other sustainable initiatives.
2. It contributes to environmental responsibility
Reducing energy consumption also means reducing carbon emissions. In an age when environmental sustainability is a top priority, businesses that adopt energy management practices can reduce their carbon footprint and demonstrate their commitment to the bigger goal of combating climate change.
3. It gives businesses a competitive advantage
Businesses that include energy management in their top priorities are gaining a competitive edge in the market. Demonstrating this commitment to sustainability can help attract customers and partners who share the same advocacy. Aside from expanding the customer base, this can also lead to a positive brand image.
4. It leads to equipment longevity
Efficient energy management extends the lifespan of HVAC and refrigeration systems by optimizing their usage and workload. As such, this results in fewer breakdowns, repairs, and replacements—effectively reducing maintenance costs. This also avoids delays and setbacks that are usually caused by sudden equipment failure.
5. It helps businesses stay compliant
With energy regulations becoming more stringent, businesses that prioritize effective energy management are more likely to stay compliant. Aside from avoiding fees, penalties, and legal complications, businesses can also reduce risks often associated with high emissions and energy use.
6. It is a future-proofing strategy
Energy costs will continue to rise. Businesses that are already embracing energy management are already ahead of their competition. They can readily adapt to changing energy landscapes, changing environmental regulations, and economic fluctuations. These businesses are in a better position to thrive in a future where energy resources may potentially become scarcer and more expensive.
What are some real-life examples of energy management in action?
Energy management isn't just a theory—it's a practice that yields real results for businesses across various sectors.
Example 1: Retail stores
Retailers can use energy management to make sure that their stores are comfortable for customers while minimizing energy waste. Smart HVAC systems can adjust temperatures based on foot traffic and outside weather conditions, optimizing energy use without compromising the shopping experience. Energy-efficient lighting systems can also help reduce energy consumption while enhancing product displays.
Aside from reducing energy costs, the improved ambiance and eco-friendly practices can also boost customer loyalty.
Example 2: Restaurants
Energy-efficient cooking equipment can help reduce energy waste, and efficient lighting can reduce electricity consumption.
Restaurants can benefit from energy management by controlling kitchen HVAC and refrigeration systems efficiently. Real-time monitoring ensures that food storage temperatures are within safe ranges and that the kitchen stays comfortable for staff.
Meanwhile, remote temperature and humidity sensors with corresponding monitoring systems, like Therma° also allow restaurant owners and managers to keep track of fluctuations—so equipment maintenance can be conducted before they break down and cause spoilage. In fact, restaurants that use Therma° can save up to $15,000 per year in reduced food waste, labor costs, and emergency repairs. Learn more about Therma° for restaurants here.
Example 3: Manufacturing facilities
Manufacturing facilities consume substantial amounts of energy to power their machines, lighting systems, and climate control. By scheduling energy-intensive processes during off-peak hours and optimizing HVAC systems, they can reduce energy costs significantly. Additionally, investing in energy-efficient machinery and regular equipment maintenance ensures optimal production with less energy.
Example 4: Office buildings
Office buildings can optimize energy use by adjusting heating, cooling, and lighting based on occupancy. This not only saves energy but also creates a more comfortable and productive work environment for employees.
Multinational corporations can implement energy management practices such as upgrading lighting and HVAC systems, introducing smart office controls, and investing in green energy sources. Their annual energy costs will decrease, and employee satisfaction can also improve due to better working conditions.
Ready to walk the green path to cost savings?
No longer just a theory or a concept, energy management is a practical and strategic approach that hits multiple birds with one stone. Aside from reducing costs significantly and reducing carbon footprint, it also helps businesses gain an upper hand in more ways than one. It's a win-win situation that every forward-thinking organization should consider.
At Therma°, we are committed to helping businesses harness the power of energy management to achieve their financial and environmental goals. Contact us today to learn more about how our solutions can transform your energy management practices and lead you toward a sustainable and cost-effective future.
For more information on energy management for business, energy cost savings, and sustainability, you can explore the following resources:
- U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Management: The U.S. DOE offers comprehensive guidance and resources for energy management practices tailored to businesses.
- Energy Star for Businesses: Energy Star provides tools and resources to help businesses improve energy efficiency, including the Portfolio Manager tool for benchmarking and tracking energy usage.
- The Green Business Bureau: The Green Business Bureau offers certification and resources for businesses striving to become more sustainable and energy-efficient.
- International Facility Management Association (IFMA): IFMA provides insights and resources for facility managers and professionals looking to optimize energy use within commercial buildings.
- Environmental Protection Agency - ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual: This manual offers in-depth guidance on upgrading and improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.