How SBN members are making energy visible

22 March 2016

Energy management has long been recognised as a first step on the sustainability journey, achieving cost savings as well as a positive impact on the environment. However, progress past ‘low hanging fruit’ is often limited.

In particular a key challenge is lack of visibility, specifically where energy is being used and at what efficiency, and what the impact of intervention is.

Three SBN members – Energy Solution Providers, Energy and Technical Services Ltd, and ZEN Energy Systems – are redefining how businesses, large and small, look at energy and overcoming the visibility challenge.

New data and connectivity

Jeremy Allen, Founder and Sales Engineer at Energy Solution Providers (ESP), says one of the most notable innovations has been that of data.

“The availability of data and its analysis has made waste visible. Electricity, unlike water, can’t be seen when it’s being wasted. If a tap is dripping then you’ll see a puddle of water somewhere but you don’t see that with electricity. Because of that, half of organisations’ total consumption can take place when they’re not doing anything. The data makes this visible.”

Jeremy’s experience is seconded by Energy and Technical Services Ltd (ETSL) Director and CEO Geoff Bennett who adds that the Internet of Things, the continued growth of numbers and connectivity of devices such as sensors or meters, is a vital part of management process.

“There’s been an explosion in sensors and connectivity that goes beyond what people ever thought possible. This connectivity has allowed management to automate processes or to put things, such as lights, on motion sensors.”

This connectivity can include everything from shower heads that light up as litres of water wash down the drain or automatic lights that sense when someone enters and exits a room. The applications are infinite and not limited to organisation size.

Smappee technology

Proving this point is ZEN Energy Systems, which is introducing Smappee to New Zealand. Smappee is a new energy monitor designed for use in households and small to medium-sized businesses that can measure electricity consumption down to the individual appliance level. So for businesses looking to cut energy usage, there is now an affordable monitor that shows the energy consumption of individual devices, whether sitting idle, in use or being turned on.

Evidence from overseas has demonstrated that by using Smappee and having a clear picture of energy use, people can save up to 30 per cent of their electricity bills.

“Up until now there has been no easy and affordable way for people to understand how they use energy and therefore how they can save it,” says ZEN General Manager Stefan Teat. “Most people don’t understand that using a 10 watt lightbulb consumes a tenth of the energy of a 100 watt lightbulb. It doesn’t translate into dollars and cents or into better hardware or practices.”

ZEN Energy Systems will save in excess of $1,000 per year through the implementation of Smappee in its showroom and adopting the indicated energy efficiency measures.

Driving behaviour change

The biggest driver for behaviour change comes from being able to measure and see where power savings can be made, and how this can be transformed into financial savings for businesses or households, according to Stefan from ZEN.

Meanwhile, the greatest challenge to behaviour change is in how businesses are able to visualise wastage, according to Jeremy from ESP, an organisation that specialises in long-term contracts to bring about behaviour change in the corporate space (clients’ average savings are on average in excess of 30% against their baselines).

“The biggest challenge the sector faces is apathy and lack of drive to change and acceptance of energy as a fixed cost. Those things are a result of waste not being visible. You make it visible and the approach to energy is very different, very quickly.”