7 Things Your Energy Dashboard Isn’t Doing (But Should Be)
There is an ever-increasing number of tools designed to help you save both time and money when making important energy management decisions. Theoretically, that should come as good news, since your boss expects you to deliver energy savings year after year, long after the low-hanging fruit have been snatched up. But are your current energy management tools built to deliver the results you need?
One such tool that's become increasingly commonplace for energy and facilities managers is the energy dashboard—software designed to provide operationally valuable energy usage information in real time. While they are often a huge step in the right direction, dashboards tend to offer a limited, and limiting, set of functions. We've evaluated dozens of energy dashboards, and find that they are consistently coming up short in seven crucial ways:
1. Connecting Energy Usage to Dollars
Your boss is focused on your company’s bottom line, and usually not kWh usage and savings. Dashboards almost always give details on energy consumption in terms you understand, but fail to translate those terms into metrics your boss can relate to. That leaves you to do the translating yourself, in spreadsheets.
2. Scheduling Reports
Many dashboards allow you to run fairly powerful reports on your energy usage, isolating under-performing buildings or checking consumption shift-by-shift. The downside is that set up can be a major time suck. Wouldn't it be great if you could schedule your reports to run automatically?
3. Validating Utility Bills for Errors
Utility bills are notoriously error-prone, which can seriously cut into your bottom line. But the alternative—scouring each individual bill for errors—would be impossible. That's what your dashboard ought to be doing for you, and reporting back with errors found and dollars saved. None do.
4. Providing Automatic Email Alerts
You know it is vital to monitor demand and pricing, but you can’t afford to watch your dashboard interval data as it fluctuates all day long. You should be able to set consumption and price limits, then have your dashboard alert you—wherever you are—when you need to take action.
5. Updating ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Data
Portfolio Manager can be complicated to navigate, especially when you have multiple buildings. Even if you know Portfolio Manager inside-out, updating it will still take a few valuable hours from your week. Too bad your dashboard won't give you access to a more simplistic and centralized solution that takes care of energy reporting automatically.
6. Getting the Best Price for Energy
One of your major job functions is to reduce costs. One way to accomplish this is to find the best price for energy when it's time to renew your contract. Very few dashboards do anything to help you procure at the best price for your business needs.
7. Predicting Facility and System Peak Demand
Dashboards have gotten very good at showing you how much energy you're using in real-time, but they would be even better if you had predictive tools that could show you how much energy you were going to use, and how much that energy would cost you, tomorrow.