Costs and Benefits of Energy Information Systems
Facility managers often lack the information they need to make educated decisions about building-wide energy savings. That’s why so many hospitals, college campuses, and business are turning to Energy Information Systems (EIS) to understand the energy usage in their buildings.
What is an Energy Information System?
The term Energy Information Systems refers to a variety of methods used to store, analyze, and display building energy data. Energy Information Systems can include web-based software, data collection hardware, and communication systems. Robust systems will have detailed analysis built-in, such as baselining, benchmarking, and anomaly detection. With so many different systems on the market, it’s hard for facility managers to know what to choose.
Do you Need an Energy Information System?
The first question to ask is: Do you need an Energy Information System in the first place? Keep in mind that an Energy Information System is designed to enable savings; they don’t directly generate savings. A vital part of the system is an apt human decision-maker who can implement changes based on the information provided. This person could be a company owner or facilities manager with decision-making discretion.
An EIS is not helpful alone. Most buildings use these systems as part of a broader approach to energy management. EIS is only useful if you are prepared to take organizational action and make upgrades based on performance tracking.
Cost of Energy Information Systems
According to a study from Berkley National Laboratory, the price of Energy Information Systems vary widely across the market. The median upfront price tag is around $1,400 per building with an ongoing cost of $400 per month. The most common models are billed monthly or annually.
A quality Energy Information System provides insight into the energy performance of your building. Studies show that sites can save 17 – 20% in energy costs after implementing EIS. In general, buildings with higher energy-use intensity will see better energy savings with the implementation of an Energy Information System. When used with best practices, these systems typically payback their cost within two years.
Benefits of Energy Information Systems
Above all the use of an Energy Information System can reveal areas of energy waste that you can eliminate through low-cost measures. An EIS can identify opportunities for capital improvements through building upgrades to more energy-efficient systems. Continued use of an EIS ensures that efficiency gains are maintained over time.
EIS Best Practices
- Depth of Metering – Metering beyond the whole-building level can more precisely identify areas of energy waste within a building.
- Bench-marking – Taking benchmark data helps prioritize your operational improvement efforts.
- Anomaly Detection – Your EIS should regularly profile the energy load to look for any out of the ordinary energy usage.
- Peak Demand Monitoring – In-depth monitoring when energy is in high demand can reveal more savings.
- Communication – The analysis team and decision makers should work together to develop and implement plans based on the information.
In conclusion, by understanding these tools, facilities managers can better implement their use. When combined with best practices in organizational changes, an EIS can save more money then they cost.