Category

restaurants

Understanding your Energy Bills

By | c-stores, Energy Management, restaurants | No Comments

Measurement and Energy Rates

What is in hiding in your energy bill? For residents it may be easy to spot when your rate increases and when you had new taxes added on, but this is a whole different story when talking about energy consumption and restaurants, the sector that uses 2 times the amount of energy as any other sector, seeing these slight differences bill after bill is difficult and sometimes impossible. With taxes coming into play, changes in peak demand charges, and the rise in electricity costs alone determining what savings can look like from your energy management system (EMS) may be tough. We put together some best practices to help you identify your savings from your energy management system because not all the time is looking at your electric bill before and after an accurate depiction of what your EMS is saving you. Being the first in a series of blog posts concerning this topic first we will talk about measurement and energy rates.

The first thing to take into consideration is that your EMS is not connected to everything in your facility that is consuming energy. They monitor and control specific areas and systems in your building and trying to decipher if the EMS is lowering your energy bill you first have to define what it is you are measuring. Your EMS provider should provide you reporting on a regular basis that outlines what your consumption was, for the systems it was connected to, for that month making the case very plain and clear. However, in the case that they don’t, you must first have a good plan for what it is you are looking to accomplish. To affect the outcome, you must first know what to alter to make a significant difference. To compare kwh consumption month to month on specific systems your EMS must have a meter. The meter measures the specific kWh consumption for whatever system it is communicating with. This will give you numbers to compare before the system was installed to after the system was installed. If your kilowatt consumption is less after the system was installed, then you saved that $$$.

Energy cannot be stored, so it is produced at the exact moment of demand; therefore factors that influence supply and demand weigh heavily here. Other factors that come into play are fuel prices, gas and oil, and wind and weather as they determine how much energy is generated by wind turbines and hydroelectric stations. That being said the price fluctuates as much as gas prices in the summer. Another factor that plays heavy in the industrial sector is demand rates. Rates will also change if you are at your peak demand for electricity usage, and those rates vary over the course of the year. Not being able to rely on a set rate year round makes the deciphering of your energy bill that much more difficult.

Now that we have covered the first two basics in deciphering your energy bill we will be covering four more topics related to your energy bill and your EMS. Two topics every other week and once we are done, you’ll be a pro at decoding your energy bill and understanding how your EMS affects the bill. For more information on how EMS systems work check out chameleon™.

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10 Reasons Your Critical Systems Data is Valuable

By | Education, Energy Management, restaurants, Sustainability | No Comments

IoT, smart data, big data, all of these terms you hear more often the more common technology and data continues to intertwine itself with every aspect of our lives. With the recent Facebook data debacle, people are starting to realize that their data is valuable…but why? Small Box Energy works primarily within the restaurant and convenience store industry, and we’ve come to find that the more information you capture within your facility, the more it benefits your business and ultimately, you.

So what is the difference between big data and smart data? Big data deals with the 5 V’s: volume, velocity, veracity, variety, and value. Basically, it is a large pool of data that makes it difficult for data to be interpreted conventionally. Smart data, on the other hand, is data the applies to your problem. It’s what we here at Small Box Energy like to call actionable data. Our software sifts through more than 100,000 data points per location per day to pull out, only, the data that is useful to you and your business. It is easily interpreted, easy to take action with and allows you to draw educated conclusions about a problem using the data as backing.

Now let’s talk about why this smart data is so important and valuable to your business and you!

Smart Data Predicts Future Failure

The restaurant industry is notorious for not replacing their equipment when needed, and only replacing it if it is an absolute necessity that’s why early equipment diagnostics is on every facility managers radar. Maintenance behavior like this tends to cause more problems and money than saving it. Collecting data from your HVAC system like desired setpoints, discharge air temperature, and current status of compressors can give you a huge step up when it comes to fixing a problem before it costs you more money than needed, not to mention those upset customers when your A/C goes out. This stays true with your refrigeration equipment as well. Capturing a walk-in units defrost cycles and temperatures, that can help you establish an exact moment of failure, or trends that show when a piece of equipment is about to go out.

Staff behavior

Capturing data from your HVAC, walk-in units, lighting, and even your small reach in’s, you can identify when overrides of schedules are happening, and also when doors are being propped/left open. This is a massive advantage for facility managers in that it gives visibility to the employee behavior happening when no one is there to see it.

Portfolio Management Locations

Going hand in hand with the staff behavior point, the more data you capture about your location, the better it will help you manage it. You can’t control or manage what you can’t measure. There are so many things happening in a location when you are absent you can’t afford to continue to lose money here and there on lights left on, equipment failure and so on. Capturing data across your portfolio will allow you to save money in all of your locations along with managing facility budgets to sites that may be in more need than others. Comparing the data across your locations will give you more confidence in the decisions you make by having the data to back it up.

Food Safety

HAACP has been around since 1959 and formalized in 1972, so for 46 years we have relied on pen and pencil and the honesty of the employees to accurately take temperatures every 2 hours, or that the beef was cooked to proper temperature before serving, or that the walk-in refrigerator was at an appropriate temperature for the foods being stored within. Now with IoT, it’s easier than ever to obtain all of the above temperatures digitally and save them in the cloud. This allows for alarming when temperatures are not taken for specific foods or when a refrigeration unit goes down. This will enable you to take action before money is lost in the product within the refrigeration unit.

Energy Consumption

Capturing and monitoring energy consumption can save you thousands in a year. Once you capture this information, it gives you the power to isolate, and act. The energy data collected from your critical systems allow you to see where you are spending the most and create an action plan from there. Creating that small piece of visibility can save a restaurant or convenience store up to 30% on energy consumption monthly!

Smart Cities=Smart World

Connecting your facilities to the IoT revolution and capturing data is right for you, but guess what its good for the world too. This data can be used by companies to better our world. We can help pinpoint energy waste, come up with solutions and best practices to help protect the environment and keep the world as it is now for future generations.

Improving Operations

I have listed some ways that each of the above points can help operationally, but if you currently are not capturing your data in your facility, your visibility is at a zero. With HVAC data you can pinpoint equipment failure and irregularities, refrigeration data helps identify temperatures of food along with the quality, and food safety data ensures your customers are getting the best visit every visit. This actionable data allows you to create plans surrounding employee behavior and business objectives yielding savings in time and money.

Correlations with everyday Business and Data

Collecting data points today allows you to predict tomorrow’s actions. You can uncover the perfect temperature to set your facility at and ensure that, even when you are gone, it stays that way. An uptick in business can reflect in a spike in energy consumption and allows you to correlate data with everyday business in your restaurant or convenience store.

Trending Times

Not only is this the perfect time to take control of your data it’s the cheapest. It has never been more affordable for businesses to implement ways to capture their data. Several companies offer a purchase option for the equipment, but even better monthly payment options. The industry realizes the potential in this sector and making it available to everyone is the perfect way to move innovation forward.

Customer Happiness

As stated briefly above you can pinpoint the perfect temperature of your location where your customers seem to be the happiest. We often find that the employees adjust the temperatures based on their comfort level when really, the customers should be driving that. Food quality can also be affected by too many defrosts in your refrigeration units, causing the stored food to have freezer burn.

Your facility is bursting with data that is just waiting to be collected, but if we’ve learned anything from this post it’s that data has to be smart or actionable. In order to take advantage of the data, you have to understand it to know where to apply it. In today’s age it less expensive to find companies that can do this exact thing for you and in the end, make your business more profitable. Small Box Energy is proud to serve over 50 qsr, family dining and convenience store brands nationally and want to help you expand your data horizons.

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Money Saving Hacks for Your Restaurant!

By | Restaurant Tips, restaurants, Sustainability | No Comments

Energy conservation can be achieved in many different ways; some obvious ones are turning your lights off when they are not being used, ensuring your thermostats are locked, and set-points are not being tampered with and making sure your walk-in coolers and freezers remain shut, some ways are not so apparent but still crucial in ensuring all of your equipment is maintained. The restaurant industry is notorious for abusing equipment and maintaining the equipment only when it is dire to do so. The key is preventative maintenance, that will save you money now and in the long run to keep from having to purchase replacement equipment.

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners are huge culprits when it comes to energy consumption in a restaurant accounting for 28% of energy use, it’s important to understand how to save in this particular area. Proper preventative maintenance and upkeep are essential in saving here. Simple things like ensuring the unit is free of debris ensuring air flow is at a maximum, addressing problems right away, and changing air filters regularly can reduce energy consumption dramatically. Can changing air filters really save me that much? Yes! Installing our chameleon™ platform primarily in the restaurant sector we have conducted many case studies involving energy consumption and how it relates to each area of the restaurant. In one specific instance, we encountered a unit that wasn’t ever achieving the set-point. Below you can see the trend graph where the unit was running for about 97 percent of a 12 hour day. This was due to a clogged, dirty air filter.

Below, you can see where the filter was replaced and the unit ran significantly less, an approximated 47 percent less to be exact.

Now, take into consideration that electricity averages .12 per kWh. This ONE unit would be costing you around $31.50 per day if it ran 9 hours a day, multiplied across the year that equates to $11,497 for just one unit. Typically restaurants have anywhere from 2-6 units on average. If you cut that number in half by just cleaning those filters that’s $5,748 saved only by replacing a $5 filter every 30 days.

Refrigeration

As far as refrigeration goes, we have seen it all here. The most important thing is to ensure the coils are clean, a walk-in with dirty coils uses up to 23% more energy than a walk-in that has clean coils. To clean the coils, you first want to turn off the equipment, locate the condenser coils and use a stiff paint brush to brush the coils off and use a vacuum to clean the dust from the coils.

Another common problem we spot on the field installing systems is broken door seals in walk-in units. In this case, when you close the door to the unit, there isn’t any proper suction and you are losing cold air out of those broken seals. Below is a chart we grabbed from a location where you can see where the door is being propped open at different times of the day. This isn’t due to broken or old door seals, but you get the idea in how much energy you are using and money you are losing.

Maintenance is Key

The most important takeaway is to elongate and get the most efficient performance out of your equipment you must maintain it. This will prevent costly replacements later and will increase the money you save in efficiency. Making a schedule and sticking to it or even hiring a company to conduct your preventative maintenance can make all the difference.

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Why an EMS Alone Isn’t The Answer to Energy Savings

By | Energy Management, restaurants, Sustainability | No Comments

While energy management systems are great and can substantially reduce your facility’s energy consumption there are many other factors that come into play when it comes to what affects your energy consumption and energy savings. Installing a system, ending it there and having no other course of action you can’t expect that your energy consumption troubles will just go away. Knowing what you are measuring to having an energy plan and everything in between, this article will give you an idea on how to set yourself up for success when it comes to EMS.

Getting Your Team On Board

This doesn’t just mean the front end team but your top management team as well. Commitment should look like more than a signature but accountability. Developing a solid plan for upper management and the rest of the team can help ensure the success of the energy management system. You should ensure your entire teams knows the why behind the decision to get the energy management system and let them know they play a huge part in it being successful. Oftentimes when installing an ems into a location we see setpoints constantly being overridden, refrigeration doors left open. It’s sort of like a hotel room, the first thing you do when you check in is crank that A/C super low because who cares, all you know is you don’t have to pay for it. Empowering your employees and staff with the reasons will help them hold themselves accountable and be more cognizant next time they want to turn the A/C down a few degrees and, overall, contribute to your energy savings.

Structure

Establishing a structure that surrounds defining roles and responsibilities can mean all the difference when it comes to your energy management system succeeding or failing. During the implementation process, you will want to define who will be interacting with the system on a day to day basis and ensure their knowledge is up to par when it comes to interaction with the software. Training is a big part of an EMS and establishing a training schedule ahead of time for your employees will save you time and money further along into the process. To avoid any miscommunication between staff each staff member should be completely clear on who handles what aspect of the energy management system. You may only want some employees to have access and higher up employees to have a more broad access. This will help establish clear boundaries when it comes to who should act on what alerts and what sort of escalation is needed.

Energy Plan

Establishing what your desired results are from the EMS is key to determining if the systems ROI will meet your needs. If you don’t know what you are measuring how do you know it works? Often we hear clients say they would just look at their energy bill….hmm if your EMS isn’t connected to every single item in the restaurant how could you tell if it is providing energy savings? Taking into account volume, year over year business and temperatures are crucial to understanding the ROI of your EMS. Your company may want to incorporate other aspects of energy use into the plan, like water consumption. Be sure to review your plan and key staff annually to be sure it remains relevant. Creating an energy plan will help your entire staff jump on board with the implementation of the system and incorporate energy conservation into your values.

Taking pride in new initiatives and giving ownership empowers staff to do the right thing when necessary. Turning off a light here and there, keeping the A/C at 74 degrees, and keeping that refrigeration door closed not only helps your business save money but you are saving the environment. Good things can only come from these actions so why procrastinate?

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5 Reasons An EMS is Better Than Equipment Controls Alone

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Energy Management, IoT, Remote Diagnostics, restaurants | No Comments

I have a programmable thermostat…why do I need an EMS (Energy Management System)?

We have talked to hundreds of customers and some get the concept and importance of an energy management system, some don’t. So just to clear the air on how we are different than your regular old programmable thermostat and lighting control we decided to just list it out for you.

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More Than Hardware

Energy Management Systems collect and store the information they receive about the critical systems they are connected to and communicate with. Most EMS can provide you with trend graphs so when you get a complaint about your dining area being too cold or hot, you have an idea on where the problem is and how to properly diagnose it.

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Integration

There is a single point of reference for anything that the EMS is connected to. One place to change your lighting status, HVAC setpoints, and schedules?! But wait, that’s not all! You don’t have to search through multiple dashboards or multiple menus, they all exist on one dashboard communicating to and from the EMS.

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Energy Visibility

Not only does the EMS provide visibility into your critical systems but it gives you insight into how much power the equipment connected to the EMS is consuming as well as the equipment it is monitoring. Getting detailed information on how much energy you are consuming day over day and what is consuming that energy can powerfully impact the way you run your business. 

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Enterprise Visibility

Multiple locations installed with the EMS can put all of your locations in one place. Changing setpoints, lighting state, and schedules across multiple locations has never been easier. Centralized facilities management makes it easy to prioritize facility maintenance budgets as well as evaluate, rank and optimize locations based on collected data.

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Diagnostics & Alarms

An EMS is capable of sending alarms and alerts to specific parties when temperatures are not being reached or when overrides occur to a set schedule. Early equipment diagnostics are also another added benefit. Most EMS provide trend graphs to pinpoint an exact problem with a refrigeration unit for example, helping to solve small problems before they become larger, more costly problems.

Long story short, an energy management system is much more than your thermostat on the wall. It provides visibility and analytics all in one easy to find location, which empowers you to run your business with confidence. Aggregating all of your locations data across all of the connected systems onto one dashboard makes your job that much easier.

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3 Spring Preventative Maintenance Tips You Gotta See

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Remote Diagnostics, restaurants, Small Box Energy Features | No Comments

As we spring into a new season we see numerous issues regarding HVAC units in particular. Most of the common problems we see in locations are related to the lack of preventative maintenance resulting in long-term wear and tear on units and not to mention the energy that these units are consuming because of that. Our client success managers took their expertise and decided to show their process and how they diagnose problems with HVAC units remotely using the chameleon™ platform and application. Here are 3 ways our client success team here at Small Box Energy diagnose and help remedy problems with HVAC units.

General HVAC Tips

  • Set kitchen target temperature in the mid-70s. Most units will not achieve lower temperatures during heavy volume periods and running at temperatures lower than 72 cause unnecessary strain on units while utilizing more energy than is truly required.
  • When modifying target temperatures, instead of changing by 5+ degrees in one move, update by 1-2 degrees each week to minimize staff recognition. Making smaller adjustments on a regular basis allows them to adapt vs. noticing an immediate change which will cause them to bypass the system back to original temperatures that were not optimal.
  • Clear drain lines from HVAC units can help performance by allowing airflow through the coils to cool more efficiently and causing less strain on the other components of the unit.
  • Proper functioning drain pans help the HVAC system performance as allowing the condensation to flow through the drain and not build up causing other issues.
  • Conduct preventative maintenance on a consistent basis with all of your HVAC units.

Example 1 – Unit running all the time but running well

Observations

  • Two stages running at all times
  • No unoccupied time/temperature set (if not 24-hour location make sure schedules are set properly)
  • Temperature not hitting target temperature
  • Strong splits between discharge and actual temperature being achieved – System running well

Considerations:

  • Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. A two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.
  • As system is running at full strength at all times, unit should not be expected to last as long as if it were running fewer stages and energy usage will be high
  • Unit may be undersized for the space and should be discussed further
  • Raise the target temperature to one allowing the temperature to be achieved, thus reducing strain on the unit.
  • Consider “unoccupied” temperatures during low volume periods if 24-hour operation
  • Confirm that both stages are configured correctly at the unit itself, as well as in the thermostat corresponding to the unit

Example 2 – Unit running all the time and not functioning properly

Observations

  • Two stages running at all times
  • No unoccupied time/temperature set (if not 24-hour location make sure schedules are set properly)
  • Temperature not hitting target temperature
  • Discharge temperature tracks the outside temperature and raises as the day heats up
  • Discharge temperature is above the set point

Considerations:

  • Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. A two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.
  • With discharge temperature not in the 50 to low 60 – degree range during 2 stages of cooling this unit needs to be serviced by an HVAC professional.
  • As system is running at full strength at all times, unit should not be expected to last as long as if it were running fewer stages and energy usage will be high
  • Confirm that both stages are configured correctly at the unit itself, as well as in the thermostat corresponding to the unit

Example 3 – Unit Running Well

Observations

  • 1 and 2 stages running throughout the day as needed
  • No unoccupied time/temperature set (if not 24-hour location make sure schedules are set properly)
  • Temperature is achieving the target temperature consistently throughout the day
  • Strong splits between discharge and actual temperature being achieved – System running well

Considerations:

  • As this system is running well, if other units in the same location are not, this system could be helping compensate the entire space for other units.
  • Consider “unoccupied” temperatures during low volume periods if 24-hour operation

These tips can help prevent long-term wear and tear on your equipment. Preventative maintenance is essential to energy savings and elongating the life of your equipment. This is true not only for HVAC units but for refrigeration equipment as well and every piece of equipment in your restaurant, c-store and even your home. Take a look at our platform page to see more screenshots of the chameleon app in action!

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3 Reasons Why an EMS is a NEED to Have

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, restaurants | No Comments

Let’s start this article off with..no one actually NEEDS anything…you don’t need to have a car…you don’t need to have a tv…..but we have these things to make our lives easier and much more enjoyable. The same goes for an energy management system (EMS) for your business, whether it’s in a convenience store, retail store, casino or a restaurant.

Around since the 1990’s, energy management systems have been creeping their way into our everyday lives. Whether it’s in your home with your programmable thermostat or in your office building with automatically scheduled lighting, EMS systems are part of the new IoT revolution. A new study conducted by Forbes found that businesses are fixated on IoT and how it can slingshot their business into the future with ease, over 90% of businesses surveyed in fact. Why?

The Environment:

It’s just the right thing to do for our environment and for your business. Restaurants consume twice as much energy per square foot than any other industry. The energy that Americans consume is 90% nonrenewable and this vast energy consumption is contributing not just to the depletion of resources but is contributing to the deterioration of our environment. Having an Energy Management System in place helps to cut back energy consumption, not only do you have the piece of mind that you are doing your part to save the planet but it allows for functionality.

Convenience

Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. The world is shifting to an IoT state of mind. Access to your house lights, garage, and A/C all from your phone. If your house has it….why wouldn’t you implement it into your business? Most EMS gives you the flexibility to not only monitor remotely but they also enable control. Gone are the days of driving up to your restaurant on a beautiful, sunny day, birds chirping and parking lot lights on. Give yourself a break and your staff for that matter, give them the convenience that will make facility maintenance using early equipment diagnostics, lighting schedules, and temperature alarms right in their back pocket.

The Bottom Line

An energy management system or building automation system can help with your bottom line in several different ways. Providing energy savings by way of reducing your energy consumption is the first, most obvious way. Your energy consumption can be monitored and scheduling can be set on your critical systems to reduce the amount of consumption and limit the times to non peak times, maximizing our energy savings. Other ways that are not as apparent are in early equipment diagnostics and food safety. Food safety is a bit of a tricky one, it’s sort of like insurance. You don’t really value it until you need it. Having a food safety incident where your food temperatures come into question with the public, you can’t afford to have some sort digitized way of keeping track of your food temperatures and the times they were last checked. Early equipment diagnostics is something the industry has shifted focus to recently, managing an entire portfolio and prioritizing maintenance can be a daunting task. With an energy management system in the mix you have a way to analyze that data and prioritize your maintenance dollars to go where they are needed most. Most energy management systems provide reports on the equipment functionality and number of problems encountered. This data coupled with your effective management team makes your facilities maintenance unstoppable.

IoT is the most important emerging technology today. To effectively compete in this data driven, digital economy you have to at least have a grasp or plans on how your business will incorporate IoT to make your business successful. These smart systems predict future equipment failures, and  help you manage and address them accordingly.

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3 Reasons Why Your Standard Thermostat Isn’t Cutting It!

By | Efficiency, Energy Management, Restaurant Tips, restaurants | No Comments

Restaurants are busy places filled with customers, employees, food, and lets not forget the hot kitchen equipment. We have installed several systems all across the United States in all different types of restaurant builds. In our travels we have seen lots of different types of thermostats installed in locations, from a standard basic thermostat, to high tech programmable thermostats, or the thermostat that came with the building when it was built 40 years ago. We have also come across hacks that employees create and use to get around restrictions for thermostat setpoints.  We all have seen those plastic thermostat guards…but there are even ways to get around those; We’ve seen it all! Here are our top 3 reasons why your standard thermostat isn’t cutting it in your restaurant.

1.Your employees will always set the temperatures to what feels good to them, this temperature may not feel good to the customers.

Time and time again we see this, the balance between the staff and the customers. A good starting point is researching what local business keep their thermostats at around you, or you can simply peek at the thermostat next time you go out to eat. Once you get that baseline you can change it based on your customer’s comments. We often see the employees will turn temperatures way down because they are hot. Of course, they are hot, they are up and moving around and if its a lunch rush forget about it they are sweating. The problem with this is your customers aren’t moving around as fast and frequently as they are so they will most likely be freezing in the temps that feel good to the staff. Find a good balance and stick to it.

2. Employees, and anyone else who can see your thermostat can change set points causing extended run times for A/C units.

You may not have had a problem with your typical, run of the mill thermostat but your energy bill and your A/C units are seeing the repercussions. Having an open thermostat can cause several problems like employees and the general public changing the setpoints which can result in equipment failure if they are tampered with too often or set too low. In this instance, if you think you are covered because you have the plastic thermostat guard…think again. We have seen employees sitting with a hairdryer or setting freezing foods on top of the box in order to get it to turn on. We have even seen implements used to stick through the open spaces to change the temperature. In this case, the best option is thermostats that come as part of an EMS system. In addition to being fully customizable, you get data and alarms that show you when temperatures were changed. These nifty thermostats also give you the option to be locked out completely at a local level, so even if the buttons are pressed or menus are tampered with they will not be able to be unlocked at a local level.

3. Schedules can’t be set or can be set and are tampered with

Scheduling is super important in the restaurant industry, there are rushes and there are times when it’s really dead. During the rushes you will want the temperature to be lower than normal to compensate for all of those bodies in one place at the same time, but who would remember to turn this back up after the lunch rush is over? No one, we see it often where the setpoint is left super low and just continues to run. This causes your customers to be uncomfortable and not to mention all of the wasted energy and money. Having a thermostat capable of schedules is best for the restaurant environment simply because you are subtracting the human error out of the equation. You no longer have to rely on someone to change the setpoint after a lunch rush and back down again because most likely, they won’t remember. Not only will these save you a headache, they will save you the money on your HVAC consumption.

There are several solutions out there to alleviate some of the pain that comes along with each one of these, deciding which is best for your business is the tough part. With the chameleon platform, we utilize schedules that fit to your specific business needs and give access to who you deem necessary. We have the capability to lock out thermostats completely or have an adjustment range of 2 degrees up or down so your staff still feels empowered but you don’t pay for it. We also alert and alarm you to changes if you opt to keep the system open. Providing data on override times, temperatures, and alarms is what helps you pinpoint what your customers want while simultaneously providing you with equipment diagnostics on units and their likelihood to fail.

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6 Things to Consider When Choosing an Energy Management System

By | Efficiency, Energy Management, restaurants | No Comments

Restaurants fit into the commercial sector that accounts for 8.9% of the nation’s energy consumption. Energy Star found they consume 2.5 times the amount of every other commercial sector PER SQUARE FOOT! That’s awatt (haha I had to) of energy, and with energy prices only rising, the monthly utility cost for restaurants is exponential. Future Market Insights says that the energy management industry will soar to 21.6 million by 2025, that’s a drastic change from the 6.3 million that it’s valued at now. That’s because restaurants are not the only ones switching to EMS systems, residential, commercial and even entire cities are switching to more energy sustainable solutions. Because of the large market and overwhelming amounts of information, we put together some key things to look for when considering a building automation system or energy management solution.  

      1.  What are you trying to alter?

This is something that most people would say is a no brainer…but when it comes down to it are you just trying to cut energy or are you looking for an all in one building automation system? It’s important to know exactly what you aim to do with your energy efficiency project and how you plan to measure its success.

      2. Visibility

Don’t settle for less in this area. You don’t want to pay for something that tells you exactly what your standard thermostat tells you. Historical data and trend graphs can make all the difference in how you manage your locations. Don’t settle for knowing the current temperature and what the temperature will change to in 3 hours, know the last time the temperature was changed, how much it was changed by and how it is currently affecting that A/C unit. Document your pain points right now when it comes to what you wish you had in an energy management system and this will help identify and disqualify potential candidates.

      3. Support

Having tons of data collected for you is useless if you cannot understand or do not have the time to decipher it. Choose an option that has dedicated people to help when you are in need. Whether it is identifying trends in data or following up to make sure your staff reacted appropriately to an alarm, make sure you get the support you are actually paying for.  

      4. Modular

Look for a platform that gives you visibility into the areas you are concerned with but don’t limit yourself to what you want right now. We all know too well that the needs of any business are ever changing and right now you may just want energy management…but what happens when corporate wants to incorporate food safety standard that needs to be electronic? More training and possibly different software and whole new system to learn.

      5. Identify existing issues with equipment that affects what you are trying to control

You can’t fix energy consumption related to your HVAC if one of your 4 units is down and making the other 3 work harder resulting in more energy consumption and depleting existing equipment life. Making sure your units are in good working order is half the battle and will not seem like such a surprise when an outside company cannot install their energy equipment because the units aren’t even functional.

6. Ease of use

Get something that is user-friendly. The last thing you want is to have to train your whole staff on a new piece of software/hardware that is not easily navigable and not intuitive. Let’s not forget you will have to use this too 😁

All in all, make sure you chose something that will fit your business not the other way around. There are several options out there for a  energy management solution that is coupled with other areas you might want to venture into at a later time. Seamless is the key, easy training, easy transition, easy money!

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