Top Tips for Successful Energy Data Management
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, or so the saying goes. However, you also need to ensure that you are accurately measuring, to be able to effectively manage.
A team can collect all the data it wants across a business’ portfolio and operations, but if they are not effectively managing the data, checking it’s validity, and communicating the results appropriately, they will not reap the rewards they should.
We asked a few of our Technical Energy Centre team, who undertake portfolio wide energy monitoring, analysis and verification for some of the country’s largest retailers (amongst others), for their insight into how to ensure effective energy data management.
Here are some of their top tips, for those seeking to make sense of huge and complex datasets, and how to avoid some common pitfalls:
Garbage in, garbage out: Online data visualisation tools have a way of “smoothing over” zero values, spikes and data gaps in half-hourly data, so exercise caution and always do your own quality checks. A simple look at the raw data can reveal data drop-outs, zero readings or British Summertime hiccups. Perform sanity checks and validate data, double check the minimum, maximum and measures of central tendency to ensure your analysis is not thrown way off.
Get a sense of scale: Electricity sub-meters and gas meters are calibrated at a variety of different rates. If your data is reported in the wrong units, large errors can (and do) go unnoticed for many years. Always make sure you know what loads each meter is measuring and check your calibration or units of measurement while on site.
Split Personality: Your site may be as good as gold during the day, but an energy guzzler overnight. Treat each operating state as if it were a separate building and split up your data sets accordingly. It will be much easier to identify cause-and-effect, particularly the effect of weather, for a particular state.
Relate it to the real world: Getting to know the building(s) in question before reviewing any data is vital. In order to understand if the data is accurate or inaccurate, consumption is too high or too low, there are excessive periods of consumption or data missing, you have to know your case subject. Is a “0” value no consumption or no data? Is a peak in data a meter error or a spike in consumption? If you do not know where, when and how energy should be consumed for the specific building in case, you will not be able to manage or analyse the data properly.
Occupants matter: Why do buildings consume energy? Because people go there. Managing the reporting of data is vitally important in building a successful energy strategy. Clear, targeted, audience-specific reporting is crucial in gaining and maintaining occupants’ awareness of their energy consumption.
Visualisations are your friend: Never underestimate the power of clear and easy to understand visualisations – they are a key tool in any analyst’s toolbox, used to communicate findings to clients and interoperate data. Your analysis is useless unless it can be presented in a clear and concise way to stakeholders.
Explore the Data: Effective data management facilitates the ability to form structured and formalized datasets, that can then be explored iteratively. It all starts with a question, that leads to another question, that leads to subsequent questions. Do not be afraid to interrogate and query datasets.
At ETS, we help clients successfully manage and reduce their energy consumption and spend, saving their businesses money and reducing their operational risks.
Our Technical Energy Centre is a vital part of this and differentiates us from our competitors in the energy management marketplace. Our data-led approach enables us to make effective and swift interventions, accurately track and validate energy efficiency projects and proactively manage energy consumption down to assist our clients in their cost and carbon reduction efforts – at scales from a single building to whole portfolios.