Energy management is use of management and technology to improve the energy performance of a community group, organisation or building. The process of setting up and running an energy management process allows your group to make informed decisions about any energy activities and future investments. To be fully effective, community groups should consider energy management alongside energy procurement, energy generation, and energy reduction projects (include links)
Energy management is an extensive topic. This section aims to introduce some of the areas that community group can begin with and provide links for further reading on the topic. The process of setting up an energy management system will be broken down into steps. These will be accompanied by useful links that can be used to understand the area in greater detail.
An initial review should give your community group an understanding of the following:
- The organisation's energy use and cost
- Factors affecting energy use, such as different uses of a building, weather etc.
- Key issues such organisation type and structure
- What the broader aims of the organisation/community group are.
Energy Policy/Action plan
An energy policy is a written statement of commitment to managing energy and its environmental impact. It can also be used to summarise what a community group hopes to achieve with the energy management plan and for raising awareness of the plan within the community. A clear and concise plan gives an opportunity for people involved to make changes, raise concerns and suggest improvements. Some things to consider in an energy action plan include:
- Who has responsibility for setting up the energy management plan
- The timescale of the project
- The group's energy/carbon vision and aspirations, with specific objectives and targets
- How progress will be monitored
- How progress will be communicated
- What investments are required, both in time and monetary terms
Metering and monitoring
When considering energy management, it is important to consider how you will monitor the consumption of energy. Metering of energy can take two forms - simple real-time display energy monitors and smart energy monitors for large premises.
The stages of effective metering and monitoring are:
- Collection of data on energy
- Analysis to convert data into usable, easy to understand information
- Communication to convert this information to knowledge
- Actions to improve efficiency and reduce costs
In-home energy monitors can be purchased and distributed to domestic premises as part of a community project. These monitors provide live information to the households regarding their electricity use. These monitors help make energy use more visible and allow households to identify patterns of high use and encourage behaviour change activities.
Monitoring can be conducted online via an energy monitoring platform. These provide daily reports on energy usage.
Establishing a baseline and identifying opportunities
Using energy monitoring results it is important to set up a baseline of your current energy use. This baseline should be set over a predetermined period and then used to refer back after measures and actions have been implemented. Energy data collected can also be compared to external benchmarks to help identify opportunities for energy saving.
This on-going process can be used to track progress, identify worthwhile actions and produce reports identifying monetary and carbon savings.
The most effective way to identify opportunities is by looking in detail at buildings, plant and equipment used within a building for inefficiencies. This can often be achieved with common sense and doesn't necessarily need an energy efficiency professional.
Demand management is also a component to energy management but may not be applicable to all energy management programmes. Large users of energy look to control or limit usage in times of high demand. This demand shifting is expected to be incentivised to reduce the need for costly generation capacity needed to supply peak demand.