Web-Enabled Power Monitoring for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Building Management Systems for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses: Networked Loads vs. No Monitoring
Equipment that enables small and medium-sized businesses to monitor energy use from the web.
Item ID: 355
Multiple Energy Systems--Energy Management
Technical Advisory Group: 2011 Energy Management TAG (#4)
Average TAG Rating: 2.8 out of 5
TAG Ranking Date: 09/29/2011
TAG Rating Commentary:
- Usual challenges, especially quantifiable and reliable savings, but there are some powerful innovations happening here that show promise.
- Other monitoring approaches mentioned incorporate these features...will likely have overlap in technologies.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have clearly identified installed cost as the primary barrier to improved energy management. These customers have limited resources, are very bottom line oriented, have near term outlooks, and unable to disrupt their business for extended periods.
Currently developed web-enabled power and energy monitoring solutions have recognized these barriers. Monitoring systems are available that can connect to a wide range of equipment including utility meters and load panels, as well as be able to integrate with existing equipment such as building energy management systems, lighting controls, or HVAC systems. A software system is necessary to aggregate and display monitoring information in a format that is useful to a building or business manager. This software may be local or cloud-based. Local software may be purchased, customized, or designed by on-site staff. Most cloud based system providers impose a monthly subscription fee.
Some utilities (BC Hydro, PG&E, and Consumer's Power in Michigan) offer free energy monitoring and targeting services to their small and mid-sized commercial customers. Enerati offers an internet connected gateway that uploads live data to the cloud. The price for a standard monitoring kit (which provides energy use data for an entire business or building) is $189. Each kit can be expanded by up to nine wireless sensors that monitor outlets, panels, or gas meters. Enerati offers three subscription plans, with the lowest cost one starting at $3 per month. Companies such as Noesis offer free analytical and display software with charges levied for additional services.
Advanced analytics provide benchmarks, establish baseline models, propose energy and cost savings opportunities, and verify energy use reductions. The monitoring approach should be able to be absorbed into a future building automation or energy management control system (see Technology #347).
Baseline Description: Status Quo
Baseline Energy Use: 11.3 kWh per year per square foot
The EPA Energy Star buildings database shows an on-site energy use of 59.81 kBtu/ft-2 for medium sized, mixed use buildings in a Western WA and OR climate zone for space heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation, and miscellaneous building loads. Heating is generally provided by natural gas---for this analysis, gas heat was converted to electrical energy use through multiplying by 0.8 (furnace efficiency) and then dividing by 2.5 which is an assumed heat pump efficiency. This yields a heating load of about 120,000 kWh/year (rounded up from 116,370). To this is added the remaining electricity load of 333,430 kWh/year to yield a total building energy use of 453,430 kWh/year (or 11.33 kWh/sf-year for a 40,000 ft-2 building). A 3% total annual energy savings would equal 13,600 kWh/year.
Absent real-time energy monitoring, business or building energy managers must rely upon monthly utility billing data. Aggregated data does not allow for building, department, or division comparisons. It doesn't identify areas for improvement or suggest actionable energy savings approaches, and may not be useful in selling energy efficiency projects to top management. The utility data may or may not provide comparisons with historical energy use data.
Manufacturer's Energy Savings Claims:
"Typical" Savings: 10%
Savings Range: From 1% to 30%
Energy monitoring equipment ranges from simple out-of-the box and easy to install electrical sub metering equipment (that allows for an understanding of energy consumption by panel, circuit, or building area) to wireless sensors with a commercial cloud-based energy analytics platform. The goal is not monitoring for the sake of monitoring. The goal is to obtain accurate information on usage patterns that provide actionable information. Increased awareness may lead to turning parking lot lights off at night, switching off power to unoccupied areas, reducing peak demands, or taking advantage of time-of-day rates. Some vendors claim that monitoring alone can reduce energy consumption by up to 10% (some even say up to 30%).
Best Estimate of Energy Savings:
"Typical" Savings: 3%
Low and High Energy Savings: 1% to 10%
Energy Savings Reliability: 1 - Concept not validated
Energy Use of Emerging Technology:
11 kWh per square foot per year
Energy Use of an Emerging Technology is based upon the following algorithm.
Baseline Energy Use - (Baseline Energy Use * Best Estimate of Energy Savings (either Typical savings OR the high range of savings.))
This represents the energy use of the baseline 40,000 ft-2 Energy Star mixed use building located in a Western WA and OR climate zone less a 3% savings in annual energy use due to the availability of web-enabled power monitoring data. The 3% is given as a percentage of the total building energy use.
Units: square foot
Currently no data available.
Installed first cost per: square foot
Emerging Technology Unit Cost (Equipment Only): $0.02
Emerging Technology Installation Cost (Labor, Disposal, Etc.): $0.00
Baseline Technology Unit Cost (Equipment Only): $0.00
Enerati offers an internet connected gateway that uploads live data to the cloud. The price for a standard monitoring kit (which provides energy use data for an entire business or building) is $189. Installation takes about one hour. Enrati combines low cost wireless sensors with a commercial level cloud based energy management platform. Each kit can be expanded by up to nine wireless sensors that monitor outlets, panels, or gas meters. Enerati offers three subscription plans, with the lowest cost one starting at $3 per month. The total installed cost is estimated at $189 kit + $75 installation + 9 x $75 each for wireless sensors = $939.
Simple payback, new construction (years): 0.7
Simple payback, retrofit (years): 0.7
Cost Effectiveness is calculated using baseline energy use, best estimate of typical energy savings, and first cost. It does not account for factors such as impacts on O&M costs (which could be significant if product life is greatly extended) or savings of non-electric fuels such as natural gas. Actual overall cost effectiveness could be significantly different based on these other factors.
The simple payback is "immediate" for end users when the energy monitoring is provided by the utility or a company like Noesis (which has adopted a "freemium" model). Noesis makes software applications free with charges for additional services. Other companies like Serious Energy watch energy use down to the circuit level in commercial and apartment buildings while providing web-based displays for owner/operators. Serious Energy's business plan is to serve as an energy service company, with the ability to finance efficiency projects at no costs to the owners while paying itself off through energy savings.
This emerging technology employs monitoring equipment that enables energy use data to be accessed and viewed from the web. The ultimate goal is to enable and empower small business owners to identify and ultimately implement energy savings opportunities. Energy management systems are necessary (see Technology #347) if the owner wishes to modify schedules or change operating setpoints remotely.
Some monitoring equipment packages allow owners to track electrical energy use, natural gas use, and water use. Analytics may include the display of energy use trends, comparisons with similar buildings, and may include greenhouse gas emissions estimates. Monitoring and analytics packages have a wide variety of display capabilities and the most difficult task for small businesses may be in identifying the equipment vendor that best meets their information needs.
Pulse Energy Inc., Pulse Energy
Integrated Building Solutions, Web Based Integration Solutions
Lucid Design Group, Building Dashboard
EcoBee, EcoBee Thermostat
Tridium, Niagra and Sedona Framework
Interval Data Systems, Inc., Energy Witness
Cascade Energy, Sensei
FirstFuel, Rapid Building Assessment
MACH Energy, Asset Manager
Noesis, Noesis Pro
NorthWrite, Energy Worksite
Onset, Hobo U30
The standard practice is to let equipment operate autonomously with little knowledge of where the energy is being used.
Monitoring and analytics packages for small and mid-sized businesses are available from literally dozens of companies. A "short" list includes: eSight, Pulse Energy, Energy Deck (UK), E-Mon, Procurian Energy, Englert, OptoEMU, Advanticsys, Panoptix, PowerGuide, Melon Power, Energy AI, Enerati, Hughes Energy Systems, Noesis, and Siemens EMC. PECI examined 51 software packages and indicates that it is challenging to keep up with the ever increasing number of energy management information systems and, due to lack of transparency, examine embedded analytical capabilities (PECI, 2013). Most packages offer meter-level cloud-based "software as a service" which allows users to view and analyze energy data online. Differences in capabilities revolve around hardware (limits on current transducer amperage), wireless data import/export, data security, data quality assurance (flagging missing or corrupt data), data displays, benchmarking, trending, and monitoring displays (or data visualization capabilities); and energy cost estimation (PECI, 2013).
End User Drawbacks:
Small- to medium-sized businesses have clearly identified the installed cost as the primary barrier. Target customers have limited resources, are very bottom-line oriented, have near-term outlooks, and are unable to disrupt their business for extended periods while the system is being installed. Currently available low-cost monitoring solutions targeted to these customers have recognized these barriers.
Operations and Maintenance Costs:
No information available.
The effective life for the hardware will be 10 to 15 years and for the software will be 5 years due to obsolescence.
Competing technologies include direct digital control systems (DDC), web-based thermostats and intelligent plug load strips.