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Five steps to understanding your business’s energy consumption and expenses

26 October 2023

The money you spend on energy each month decreases your profit margins and limits the funds available to invest in your business. And, the cost can be significant. But instead of viewing your energy expenses as a necessary evil, consider them an opportunity. By being thoughtful about your electricity use and taking the time to understand what you are paying for, you can find opportunities to save money. Your company budget will benefit from the time you take to understand your consumption and expenses. Here are five ways business leaders like you can evaluate their energy use and costs:

1. Understand your energy bill

The bill you receive each month from your energy provider gives a detailed breakdown of your energy consumption and cost per unit of energy. It will also list adjustments and fees included in your service contract. Unfortunately, determining the amount you owe is not straightforward and the jargon can be confusing. Because energy pricing constantly fluctuates and energy providers may present the information differently on their statements, business leaders may struggle to understand exactly what each line item in the bill covers. Learning how to read your energy bills will help you make informed decisions about your usage and procurement.

2. Identify your most energy-intensive machines or processes

Aging electronics, appliances, and machinery, including refrigerators, office equipment, and air conditioners, will pull far more energy than newer energy-efficient models. Identifying these items in your workspace gives you a logical place to start making improvements. That could mean updating to more energy-efficient models or increasing the thermostat settings to run the air conditioner less. While these changes are meaningful, significant improvements may mean making profound changes to equipment and processes central to your business operations.

Companies operating in the cement industry have been the subject of scientific research for more than a decade due to the energy-intensive processes used and elevated emissions resulting from cement production. In 2014, a study stated that producing one ton of cement required 110 kWh of electricity, much of which was lost as heat. However, by implementing waste heat recovery generators and a secondary kiln shell, scientists altered the equipment to improve the efficiency of the production process. The result was a marked reduction in energy consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Determining where your organization uses the most energy is the first step to making substantial changes in your energy usage and carbon footprint.

3. Consider a smart meter

Your electric meter tells your energy provider how much electricity you’ve used. However, it can do more than that. Smart meter technology allows you to track use in real-time, giving you more insight into how you use electricity.

Having your utility company install a smart meter gives you a tech-enabled energy monitor. It lets you see your use throughout each billing cycle so you never receive a surprise bill. Smart meter tracking can also help you understand what machinery or processes cause spikes in your usage.

4. Review energy bills

The bottom line on your energy bill comes from two components: the kWh used and the fees and taxes. A change in either of those amounts will cause a change in your energy expenses.

Resist the temptation to simply pay what you owe without reviewing the bill. Has your use increased significantly from the previous month or the same month last year? Can you account for the difference if you take into consideration the weather, increased production, additional machinery, or other changes to your operations? If not, your increased use may point to equipment that needs servicing or changes in your staff’s behaviors that you should examine.

Also, electricity companies can make mistakes. Reviewing your bill allows you to catch any errors and rectify them.

Has your rate increased? If so, consider shopping around. Energy consulting firms can help those in a deregulated market shop for less expensive energy procurement contracts. If you are looking to be more environmentally conscious, an energy consultant can help you evaluate contracts with renewable energy companies in Alberta or other markets where you do business.

5. Choose an energy provider wisely

When you operate in a deregulated market, which includes many areas in Canada, the United States, and Europe, you can comparison-shop for your energy needs. That means you can do more than just review one utility company’s contract options. You can explore energy plans from different providers servicing your area to find the one that best fits your company’s needs. Shopping for the best energy contract is an incredible opportunity to make a meaningful difference in your energy budget.

However, it can also be overwhelming trying to examine so many options. That’s where an energy management company can help. Chicago energy consulting firms are already familiar with the local providers there. They are experts in their market and have established relationships with local utility companies. Whether you are in Chicago or Calgary, choose a reputable energy management expert to be your guide. Someone who will help you understand the nuances of each available energy contract so you can find the right energy procurement plan for your business. Leveraging their knowledge frees up your time to put into running your business, and it can save you money you can use to grow your company.

As a business leader, you are pulled in many different directions. Adding something else to your to-do list is never an appealing prospect. However, taking the time to understand your energy consumption and costs can save you money. Whether you decide to tackle this alone or work with an energy management consultant, take advantage of this opportunity to cut your costs and boost your budget.

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