Planning Ahead: Is your energy management system ready for the new normal?

As more of the UK’s workforce returns to the office and permanent flexible working arrangements are agreed, business leaders are looking for ways to decrease costs and build more resilient operations. Shayne Wilson, Head of EMS Sales at Pilot Group, explains why energy management should be a priority.

Suffice to say it has been an extremely challenging few years for businesses of all sizes and sectors.

Now, as both individuals and companies begin to put long-term plans in place for the ‘new normal’, many firms are looking ahead to find ways to increase resilience and cost efficiency.

Business energy use is a crucial area to consider as part of this exercise, and not only for heavy-industry companies whose processes mean they consume more energy than the average business. 

In fact, as the cost of buying energy from the grid continues to increase, managing energy spend efficiently – and protecting firms against the risk of significant future price rises – has become a pressing concern for every business. 

Agile solutions

Recent years have seen a proliferation of energy management system (EMS) technology, which has brought sophisticated systems that manage energy-consuming equipment, like heating and lighting, within the budget of every business.Despite that, there is evidence that many businesses have been slow to adopt them.

Following the first lockdown in March 2020, research by Carbon Intelligence showed that many business premises continued to use almost as much power as they usually would at full occupancy, even though, at that time, almost every firm was closed, or its staff were working from home. Power consumption reduced by just 16 per cent, on average.

It’s a statistic that represents a major waste of energy, as well as a large and unnecessary cost to many UK companies. And although the extremes of the coronavirus pandemic have shone a light on the issue, inefficient or non-existent controls over energy-using equipment has been costing firms money for years.  

The figure is also a reminder that there remains a lack of agility among businesses when it comes to varying energy strategies in response to changing occupancy levels.

Implementing an effective EMS gives you control over the key energy-consuming systems that run within your business, so you can tailor the way systems operate according to real day-to-day requirements.

Many systems also offer enhanced automation functionality, allowing you to install sensors that detect whether or not each part of the building is occupied and automatically switch off heating, lighting and ventilation systems when they don’t need to be on.

If most companies had had even simple energy management systems in place during lockdown one, we wouldn’t have seen energy being wasted at the high levels it was.

Providing flexibility

With flexible working arrangements becoming the norm for most businesses, the need for a smarter approach is clear.

Energy management systems are key to taking greater control over energy use, giving companies the ability to control systems remotely and in a much more agile and responsive way – essential in avoiding energy over-spend and excessive carbon emissions. 

Remote-monitoring and servicing packages can deliver major savings. They allow the person responsible for energy management to control a firm’s energy-using equipment wherever they are, on or off the premises.This approach is already gaining ground in the domestic market, with smart-home systems exploding in popularity, and the same idea also applies to businesses, large and small.

A wide range of connected control devices and software platforms are already available to put businesses in control of their energy consumption. For example, our easy-to-use Energy Manager 2.0 is specifically designed to control and monitor heating systems for SMEs up to large enterprises, causing minimal to zero disruption when installed.

Its smart sensors and self-learning algorithm create savings by making heating systems work more efficiently to reduce waste. Meanwhile, its user-friendly portal is accessible remotely from any location or device with an internet connection, making it the perfect tool to not only monitor one or multiple sites but also make significant savings on money and carbon – an average of 40%.

Ultimately, in this new normal, facilities managers need to think hard about how they adapt their energy systems to avoid excess consumption, long-term overspend and elevated emissions.

Investing now to maximise energy efficiency, and investigating the options for smarter on-site energy management, could deliver significant both financially and in terms of risk avoidance, helping your company gain that critical edge over the competition.