For all companies, being able to stay in business boils down to the ability to cover operational costs, including utilities. Finding ways to boost sales and increase revenues is one side of this, but another big element is being able to keep energy and other expenses low in the first place. Utilities management, also known as utility bill management, might be just the answer organizations are looking for when it comes to energy expenditure control.
What It Is
Utilities management is a contemporary system or set of processes that lets an agency obtain, track and analyze data about energy use. In many cases, it also involves the use of computer hardware, software and network connections (the Internet) to get communications about or pay energy-related bills. Although many of the tasks involved can be automated if desired, certain procedures, such as determining whether energy expenditure modifications have been effective under specific criteria, often require real people.
A major goal of utilities management is to identify the operational procedures, equipment or areas within a building are using abnormally high amounts of energy. When managers and executives find these energy “leaks,” they can investigate what is causing the extreme consumption. From there, they can develop new policies or ways of performing tasks that are more energy efficient. In some cases, reducing costs means making some improvements to equipment or a building’s structure, such as replacing machinery or putting on a new roof.
Companies also use this system to make some comparisons regarding energy consumption as well as to compare electricity prices from period to period, machine to machine or building to building. They might see that energy use consistently goes up by x percent in the winter, for example. Using this information, executives and managers frequently can make some educated predictions about expenses throughout the year, which can yield a more accurate budget plan. This is important because businesses often design their production and sales goals at least in part based on how much money they think they’ll need to pay out.
In some cases, utility companies charge significant fees for late or missed payments. These additional charges reduce total revenue for a business, so executives and managers typically do all they can to ensure that they pay providers on schedule. Utilities management can incorporate technology to automatically submit money into a provider account, greatly decreasing the odds of payment problems. A related consequence is that businesses enjoy uninterrupted energy service and, therefore, are better able to maintain production plans. They also develop a good reputation with the provider.
Utilities management is somewhat of an umbrella term. It can include a simple software program that generates a spreadsheet to an entire complex structure of energy monitors, sensors, professional analysts and more. The services that utilities management companies offer thus are widely varied. Businesses have to determine exactly what they need in their utilities management system before they decide what utilities management company might be the best fit.
The benefits of utilities management go far beyond dollars and cents. Typically, when a company is able to reduce its energy use, the negative impact on the environment also goes down. For example, if a company doesn’t burn as much petroleum, it doesn’t release as much carbon dioxide into the air. Overall, this can create more stable ecosystems and a more sustainable energy network.