06. 24. 2013

For Small Businesses, Understanding Electricity Usage Is First Step to Cutting Costs

Electricity is one of the largest expenses for a business.

In survey after survey of business expenses, electricity costs rank one or two after salaries as the top operational cost. Some business owners want to turn to green technologies like LED lighting to reduce those expenses, but balk at the big upfront cost.  How will they know if the investment pays off?

The fact is that most business owners don’t understand their energy usage.  The bill is sent straight to the account payables team and the information is not shared with the people who are in a position to reduce the costs.  Even if that information does get into the hands of the operations team or owner, it’s not granular enough or comes so late that correlating it with operations is too time consuming.

That’s where an energy management system (EMS) can help out.  Most big facilities rely on these systems, but not most small businesses.  That’s because EMSes have relied on expensive and proprietary computing systems and complicated controls that only really pay off in a large building with a dedicated and trained facilities team.

However, a new class of EMS that leverages wireless and cloud technology and easy-to-use interface is now bringing small business owners the ability to measure electricity usage and cut costs. It gives small business owners the data they need in real time to make changes – like adopting a new green technology – that will provide a positive ROI.

Understanding how much and where your business uses electricity is the first step in reducing the cost.  The EMS monitors each critical branch loads so the energy usage of the equipment on that branch can be isolated.  For most restaurants and retail stores, for instance, HVAC is the number one energy consumer.  Lighting is a close number two – especially when outside lighting is involved.

Next, the EMS allows you to make changes in these systems based on the usage.  HVAC usage is a function of many variables, but temperature control is the big one.  An EMS gives you secure control of the temperatures in all of the zones of your businesses so you can set comfort levels for customers and employees separately, and avoid unauthorized changes.  Lighting control is also important for cutting costs, but also for meeting some of the new laws that are emerging across the country mandating outdoor lighting.

One of the technologies that helps make small business EMS cost-effective is Cloud computing, which replaces the need for dedicated servers onsite.  Another benefit of Cloud computing is enabling remote control of an EMS from any wireless PC, tablet or smartphone.  This allows a fast response to load control issues, but also means you can see what is going on whenever you need to.

We speak from experience, having installed EnTouch EMSes in small businesses across the country. One great illustration of the benefits is a 154-location nationwide restaurant chain customer that adopted the EnTouch EMS.  Its electricity costs before the switch were $4.1 million per year, which they were able to cut to $3.3 million with the system was in place.  That savings continues on year after year.

Automating the control and management of your electricity promises to save you money, but also to give you insight and control into this important element of your operating expenses.  To learn more about the EnTouch EMS, see our product website, or contact us by email.

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