Smart Meters for Commerce
While much of the publicity around smart meters has focused on residential customers, smart meters can also benefit businesses. When companies replace traditional electricity meters with them, they can monitor and control energy usage more closely. They can then reduce their overheads and increase their profitability.
What Does a Smart Meter Do?
The technology allows businesses to identify when and how they use energy. Companies can then take steps to switch off appliances when they are not in use and encourage staff to use energy more efficiently.
According to research carried out by British Gas, businesses may incur up to 46% of their energy expenditure outside working hours. This wasted energy results from display lights left on after hours, heating unoccupied premises, vending machines left plugged in when no-one is around to purchase items and similar oversights. By fitting a smart meter and analysing the data it produces, such wasted energy can be identified and addressed.
In addition, these meters send real time information to your energy provider via the mobile data network. This ensures that your company is only billed for the energy it uses. You can avoid estimated bills, which may result in over or under payments that can impact on your company’s cash flow.
A number of energy providers have developed smart technology for business customers, including British Gas, Npower and E.ON.
According to the British Gas website, installation takes less than an hour. It then enables you to monitor and understand your company’s energy usage. British Gas customers can combine their smart meters with analysis software called Business Energy Insights. This allows you to see exactly when and how energy is used within your business. Understanding where your business can economise can help to reduce your energy costs.
Npower was one of the first UK energy providers to offer automated meter reading in real time rather than in half hour units. When customers have a smart meter fitted, Npower can record energy consumption remotely and provide accurate invoices without the need for meter readings or estimated bills. Npower’s technology can be combined with their proprietary encompass or Energy Assist software packages to enable monitoring and comparison of energy usage across multiple sites.
E.ON offers free installation to business customers for electricity only. They clearly state on their website that installation will require the electricity supply to be interrupted for up to 30 minutes. This should be borne in mind when scheduling the installation appointment. E.ON offers dedicated, UK-based customer support for all its business customers.
Will it Save My Company Money?
Installing a smart meter will not, in itself, save your company money. However, it will provide the data that can help you to introduce savings across your business. By analysing the data collected by the smart meter, you can initiate a targeted cost-savings programme.
When you begin the programme, be sure to involve your employees. Ultimately, it will be the people working for you whose behaviours will need to change to make ongoing energy savings.
Communicate your plans to your employees and let them know the costs of wasting electricity. For example, many of your employees may not realise that the energy required to power a 100w light bulb costs up to £50 per year if the bulb is left on constantly. When you multiply this figure by all the bulbs that burn in empty toilets, deserted corridors and rarely-used stairwells, you can see the potential to save hundreds of pounds each year if your employees simply by switch off the lights when they leave a room. Motion sensors may also help to reduce costs by switching lights off automatically when rooms are not in use.
You can create some healthy competition be identifying energy champions and challenging teams to deliver savings in their own areas. You can encourage employees to participate by offering individual or team incentives for the best cost-saving idea or the highest amount of savings generated over a year.
Upgrading to smart electricity meters can deliver substantial savings to companies that are willing to act of the information provided by this new technology.
Energy Conserving Socket
Amazon Price: $12.17 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 1, 2015)