Governments all over the world have established energy policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and regulating the use of fossil fuels. Inevitably, these policies have affected every aspect of society and business, and energy management has become an increasingly important consideration for companies in every industry.
As a result, many businesses have realized the advantages of a good energy management policy, including cost savings and increased goodwill with stakeholders. The advantages are even clearer in “smart” energy systems, which can reduce energy usage even further through smart lighting and heating systems among other technologies. In fact, in 50,000 square feet of space, eliminating one hour of lighting each day through a smart lighting system could save a business roughly $2,000 in a single year.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of traditional energy management systems (EMS) compared to smart EMS platforms as well as how you can choose the best energy management systems for your business.
Traditional Energy Management Systems
The main issue with traditional energy management systems is that they don’t accurately track energy usage. Let’s say you try to estimate your heating and cooling costs for a given month. You factor in the weather outside, the resulting amount of time your units will need to run each day, the square footage of the building and the usual estimated number of occupants. Then let’s say the number of occupants is lower than you expected because some of your team members get sick. Or one of your units is running more than it should because it needs maintenance. Your estimates will be incorrect and your energy bills might surprise you at the end of the day.
By contrast, a smart system can update energy consumption statistics in real time. If your HVAC system is running more than it should because it needs maintenance, the system could send alerts to personnel automatically. Smart connectivity provides much-needed data right when you need it, so occupancy sensors could provide information on the exact number of people in your building at any time. Instead of making complex estimates that may fall far short of your actual energy usage, you can immediately see your energy consumption statistics.
Furthermore, if you integrate your EMS with your smart building management system (BMS), you can also control lighting, temperature, etc. remotely in real time based on your energy usage data. You can shut down or adjust systems even when you’re not on-site, and you can configure your system to, for example, automatically lower the temperature in high-occupancy rooms and turn off lights in rooms that no one is currently using. All in all, IoT connectivity means you can increase energy efficiency much more than in a traditional EMS. A smart thermostat alone can save 10% to 30% more energy than a traditional thermostat.
5 Ways That Smart Energy Management Systems Help Your Business
The most obvious reason businesses turn to smart energy management systems is to lower costs. But the benefits of smart energy management go far beyond just saving money.
1. Save time and money with predictive maintenance
Smart EMS allows companies to perform predictive maintenance and actively prevent issues instead of just responding to them. For example, a smart EMS can help you see if an HVAC unit or a machine in a manufacturing plant is running inefficiently and alert your maintenance team before the unit actually breaks down. Not only will this save you energy, but it can eliminate costly downtime and more expensive repairs.
2. Increase asset value through reduced maintenance costs
Since you can often avoid more extensive repairs and downtime costs, your assets ultimately have greater value compared to overall running costs. Plus, if you perform predictive maintenance earlier, you can prevent many systems from breaking down beyond repair. That means you won’t need to replace machines and systems as often.
3. Reduce environmental impact and increase sustainability
You’ve probably heard plenty about sustainability over recent years. Whole countries have committed to seeking more sustainable energy sources and reducing the carbon footprint of various industries. As a result, committing to sustainable practices throughout your company can help you appeal to stakeholders who have similar concerns while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of your normal processes.
4. Improve system consistency
Again, if you manage your energy based on estimates, you’re going to have wildly inconsistent numbers depending on a million different factors. But with predictive maintenance in place to keep systems running consistently, you can keep your energy usage far more consistent, which will also make it easier to measure costs. One of the most efficient ways to facilitate real-time updates in EMS is through peer-to-peer (P2P) communication, which Nabto provides. In a traditional server-based model, communication has to go through the cloud, with consequent delays and heavy server load. By contrast, P2P communication allows devices to connect directly without a detour through the cloud, reducing latency and allowing real-time communication to your EMS.
5. Produce insights and real-time reporting
Data-driven energy management through P2P allows you to evaluate energy consumption in real time and optimize your systems accordingly. Plus, through IoT and P2P connectivity, you can access your systems at any time from anywhere and make changes remotely based on real-time information. All in all, you can greatly improve your energy efficiency on a day-by-day basis.
How to Choose the Right EMS for You
Energy management platforms vary widely in cost, efficiency, and required expertise. So choosing the right energy management solution is never easy. You should consider:
- Your current energy management process. Do you already have smart Internet of Things (IoT) systems in place that you can integrate with your new EMS? Do you have current software that you can update or change minimally in order to fulfill your new energy management goals? Or do you need a whole new system of smart utilities and EMS software?
- Your current infrastructure and budget. If you’re a startup with a low energy footprint already, then you might want to wait on bringing in a complex, expensive energy management platform. On the other hand, the smart home trend means there are plenty of small-scale, relatively simple energy management systems that are also available for startups, as well as larger-scale options for industrial and commercial buildings.
- Your strategic goals and objectives. Do you want to improve the responsiveness of your IoT systems in order to manage energy usage in real time? In that case, you’ll want to look into P2P connectivity. Do you want to migrate from your current system to a smart EMS software with a minimum of downtime? In that case, you should look into EMS software that doesn’t require a lot of training or coding.
Ultimately, the best platform for you depends on your exact needs and preferences, as well as the structure of your business.
Nabto and IoT Energy Management
If you’re seeking to optimize your energy usage, you should always ensure that you’re using your smart EMS to its full potential. The benefits of smart energy management are well worth the effort.
P2P connectivity provides optimized communication between EMS platforms and smart HVAC and lighting systems through the Nabto Edge platform. Nabto’s technology allows any energy management system using IoT to update without latency. As a result, companies like Sorel have used the Nabto platform to grant remote access to temperature controllers, and Aurora Lighting uses the platform to solve issues with wireless control for smart lighting systems. You can do the same.
Read Our Other Resources
We’ve also published a range of IoT resources for our community, including:
- Discover How IoT Can Help the Environment.
- Find out the answer to How Much Will an IoT Device Cost Your Business?
- Learn about P2P connectivity through our P2P Explainer.