With the current economy and the inevitability of ever-rising energy prices, making energy savings is not just about increasing the competitive edge – it can be a matter of long-term survival. Identifying areas where savings can be made, and done so relatively painlessly, should be a prime concern to all companies, regardless of the type of business being conducted.
Effectively managing a companies’ energy usage can deliver substantial savings, reduce the burden of carbon offsetting, benefit the environment and result in a more involved workforce.
Any investment in energy management is one which will produce quantifiable returns time after time.
The key is measurement – you cannot manage what you cannot measure – and the quality of the information, the way it is presented and how accessible it is will determine the effectiveness of any decision made – the better informed the decision is, the more likely it is to a fundamentally sound one with positive results.
To this end, the data that results from any measuring regime must fulfil two essential criteria: It must be accurate, and it must be understandable.
A complex mass of data can be intelligently rendered as a clear and easy to understand graphic, or badly presented as a confusing morass of figures – it is easy to see which outcome benefits the business most.
Clarity of data is a fundamental principle of one of the most important methods to achieve any positive result in a business – educating and informing the staff. This is particularly relevant to energy savings and management, as the behaviour and mindset of the people operating a business can have an enormous effect on the pattern of energy usage.
Creating a culture where people think about the manner and extent of their energy use is an achievable and worthwhile goal.
This can be approached in several ways.
An example of one method is that used by a major high street retailer, which attempted to directly tie energy usage to financial reward. The firm operates a yearly bonus scheme based on company performance for all full-time employees, and so produced a series of posters to highlight this in an inventive way – posters were placed next to light switches in offices with the slogan “Stop! You’re burning my bonus!”, attempting to create a mental link between the operation of the switch and future reward – “Is it really necessary to use this?”
But how effective is this approach? The staff are involved to a certain extent, but without feedback on their collective actions, this does not produce the feeling of positive control and collaboration that is necessary for long-term commitment to a course of action.
This is where Energy Dashboards can make a real difference.
Using empirical evidence from a variety of sources it can generally be expected that a committed, educated and informed workforce can result in increases in energy efficiency of 5-10% – desirable results that can be built on over time, improving energy savings in the long-term.
Energy dashboards provide the education and informational boost require to easily achieve this.
Whilst facilities managers and those in charge of energy policy will, of course, benefit from personal displays, the installation of Energy Dashboards in public areas is an easy and effective way to keep other staff “in the loop”, providing visual feedback of behaviour.
This results in increased feelings of control and integration amongst employees – if people can see that the activities they, as colleagues and as a business as a whole are involved in have real results, and show real progress, it induces and increases pride in the organisation, loyalty, motivation and morale – effects that are perhaps hard to quantify but which never the less produce great benefits to any company.