Head of Data and Analytics Chris Henderson at CNG Energy
COVID-19 has triggered a sharp rise in businesses looking to better manage their energy supply; as such, businesses are seeking to reduce costs where possible, without compromising on output or service.
Understanding your energy use
Having a plan for your energy management can mean reduced bills and money saved, but beyond this, a real focus on your energy will highlight your outgoings, broaden your understanding of any potential drains and challenges, and therefore identify any operational decisions you could make to tackle these.
There are many ways for businesses to be able to manage their energy, through both Smart Meters, their suppliers and Metering agents.
In 2008, the UK Government began making preparations to roll-out smart meters to help with better energy management. Having energy smart data is a great step forward in giving businesses control and becoming more usage aware. Smart meters measure energy use, sending readings directly to your supplier through a wireless connection; monthly, daily or half-hourly. Smart meters not only mean no more estimated bills, they do a lot of the legwork of identifying those energy challenges we mentioned earlier.
There is one thing that is clear when it comes to energy management, and that’s the importance of data analytics. Having a clear view of your usage data may help you decrease your spend, but also contribute toward the 2050 Net Zero target. There are a few ways you can manage your energy usage data; some suppliers can offer analytics, via a platform, to help you better monitor and manage your energy.
For customers who want complete control, there are also third parties who can offer much more in-depth data analytics, such as metering agents.
Your gas meter is managed and owned by a metering agent. They are responsible for the design, installation, commissioning, maintenance, removal and disposal of meters. Suppliers rent the meter from the agent, and pay for ongoing maintenance. With electricity, the person who owns the meter (Meter Asset Provider) and the person who operates the meter (Meter Operator) can be different.
As well as providing in-depth data, they also ensure the safety of your meter, will come out to fix it if it stops registering or turns off gas supply and much more.
Electricity customers can appoint who they would like to manage their meter, and this can change without removing it. However with gas, this is pre appointed for you by your energy supplier; it is possible to change this to a metering agent who can better manage your data, but there are a few things to be aware of before you do so.
Things to look out for
We know you want to save money, so it may be very tempting to move to an agent who can provide your business with the data analytics you need to cut costs. However, as with everything, there are some important things to think about first:
- Ensure you speak to your energy supplier, they may be able to explore options available for you or work on your behalf to negotiate costs with the alternative metering agent
- If you choose to move, it is important to find out whether your supplier will absorb the costs that may be in place – you don’t want to be hit with a surprise large bill.
- It’s good to measure and weigh up each of the benefits to ensure whether they are comparable to your current metering agent, if not better. If your supply is cut off, check how soon your metering agent is able to respond. Response times differ with domestic and non-domestic supply, with domestic supply they are under stricter measures whereas non-domestic are not seen as a priority, therefore it’s important to know whether you are able to survive that period without supply.
- Data comes from your meter, and in order for a metering agent to look at data and consumption, they need to be able to access the information from your meter. In an ideal world, the new metering agent for your gas meter will come to a commercial arrangement to procure the meters that are in situ from the incumbent agent, this means that no meter exchange needs to occur and no termination fees are triggered. However, more and more frequently, suppliers’ meters are having to be taken out and replaced with a new one – which actually could be an older meter than you currently have. This can lead to problems, as if the new agent removes the meter without notice, the old agent can charge a termination fee to the supplier, which is liable to the customer and can be passed down. Depending on the age of the meter, in some cases customers have been hit with bills in the hundreds of thousands – AMR meter costs can be higher still.
Energy management too much to manage?
Managing your data and being energy savvy is crucial for both energy efficiency, cost cutting and helping to reach Net Zero. Finding a solution that’s right for you has many benefits, and is not something you should be put off from doing – it’s just important to be informed when making any decisions.