Understanding Your Energy Bills: Part 3

In our previous two blog posts, we talked about some factors that play a major role in your utility bills and how you can make adjustments to offset those costs. In this post, the final of the three, we will discuss how billing cycles, activating equipment and how human impact plays a role on your energy consumption.

Billing Cycles and Equipment

Billing cycles have more of an impact on how your energy bill turns out than one might think. The number of days associated with each billing period may change from year-to-year. That means the amount you pay varies from month-to-month due to the number of days you are billed for. Activating or turning on multiple pieces of equipment at the same time may cause energy spikes. These can negatively affect the peak usage rates that we talked about in our previous posts. A small thing like an energy spike can cause a huge ripple effect that starts with energy consumption and ends up affecting, staffing, menu items, or hours of operations. Staggering the amount of equipment you have turned on at once can alleviate this problem, automating this process would be optimal. Smart kitchen equipment enables owners to take charge of their equipment and even remotely control it.

Human Impact

One of the two biggest culprits we see impacting daily energy consumption and, ultimately, your energy bill are people.. Not only your employees but the number customers or total number of people coming in and out on  a given day impact consumption in several different ways. Your revenue volume directly correlates with energy consumption for that location. The more people you have in an area, the hotter it gets and your air conditioners are working more and you end up using more equipment more often because you’re having to provide food to more people. Another behavior we witness often is the walk-in coolers and freezers being propped open for extended amounts of times for deliveries. This is not only causing your energy usage to spike but decreasing the life expectancy of your compressors for walk-in units.

The most common area for operational efficiency improvements surrounding human impact includes limiting or reducing the number of HVAC overrides. When employees or customers feel uncomfortable (hot or cold), their immediate reaction is to power over to the thermostat and start pressing the buttons, like it will magically change to their desired comfort temperature in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, they probably aren’t doing a small 1-2˚change. Instead, they most likely changing the thermostat by about 5 degrees. Did you know a 1˚ change in your thermostat can have up to a 3% change electrical consumption?

Are You Saving?

We now know that looking bill to bill isn’t enough to see if your energy consumption is down. You must consider how measurement, demand, energy rates, taxes and fees, billing cycles, activating equipment and how human impact play a major role in your energy bill and energy consumption. If you have an EMS and are looking for validation that it is, in fact, saving you money. The best solution for determining the effectiveness of your EMS is to work with your provider and assure they use industry accepted standards such as those endorsed by ASHRAE and AEE, two organizations dedicated to building sustainability and energy management. A good method will include sub-metering, careful monitoring, and rigid documentation practices. It doesn’t have to take long either; in fact, the more extended the test period, the more variables introduced. Some fundamental questions to consider before determining what energy management solution to install in your building are as follows: determine what areas of your building you believe are problem areas for you, decide and communicate with your team who should be involved in the process, know what savings you would like to achieve and what are realistic savings. At Small Box Energy we are committed to making the world more sustainable while helping you achieve operational efficiency.

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