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Measuring Energy Use Can Change Businesses’ Behaviour And Reduce Consumption

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Energy consumption is a hot topic right now. Price rises are forcing businesses to reduce consumption, which is adding to pressures from investors and customers to reduce carbon emissions. On a wider level, the EU has set ambitious targets to reduce energy consumption.

However, reducing energy consumption is only possible if you know what you are using in the first place, said Jon Jerromes, head of sales at energy company Pinergy.

“People know why they need to reduce energy use, but they don’t know how,” he said. “They need to start by measuring energy use. People have long bought into the concept that you need to strike a deal on utilities and get the best offer going, but the reality is that the unit you don’t use is the cheapest. The real way to achieve savings is to change behaviour, which is what will create long-term wins.”

Pinergy has responded to businesses’ collective need to reduce energy consumption by launching a new service. ‘Measurement as a service’ not only helps businesses measure their energy use, but to reduce their consumption. 

Although Pinergy is a green energy company with electricity at its core, MaaS takes it deep into the realm of other utilities. Initially, Pinergy measured and advised on electricity consumption, but in response to customers’ requests MaaS has evolved to bring in other utilities such as gas and water. It can also report on factors such as air quality and waste.

“We were measuring energy use before and providing advice, but our customers asked us to bring in other utilities as well,” Jerromes said. “They need help with all services, and the technology exists for us to use. Through MaaS we can help them realise that the most expensive utility is the energy or service you don’t need to use.”

The MaaS team starts the process by surveying the building or facility in question. Once the scope of the project is clear — a business could monitor an entire building, or just a section of it — the team installs smart metres that measure energy use in half-hour periods, 24/7. The data collected is fed into a dashboard that allows customers to see trends or set alerts. Then comes the advice.

“At home, it’s fine to turn a light off when you’re not in the room to save energy, but this is more complicated in a business,” Jerromes said. “MaaS makes it possible to see how a building is performing, no matter how complex a building is. That’s why we survey every building; each building and business is different, so advice needs to be right for each one.”

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The first piece of advice the MaaS team will give to customers is that they need to find their baseline — the level of consumption required to operate the building efficiently.

“Most businesses don’t know what they’re consuming, but you can’t make changes if you don’t know what good and bad consumption is,” Jerromes said. “We’ll then help them look at trends. It’s important to see if a utility drops off as well as rises, as this could suggest equipment isn’t working to full capacity, for example.”

MaaS helps educate people how to only use what they need, Jerromes said. He gave an example of a recent client, a software and development company. Once the company’s baseline was established, MaaS monitored usage and showed that on average the company used 18% more energy than it needed each month. Through behaviour change, by month two its usage was down to 12% over what it needed and by month three, 2%. The company now has the goal to reach 0% extra consumption, then to reduce the baseline.

The behavioural change required to reduce consumption often becomes clear as soon as utilities use is measured, Jerromes said. The dashboard might show that unnecessary equipment is being powered at night or highlight the difference that setting a heating system just one degree too high can have. During the pandemic, Pinergy was able to advise a business to consolidate workers on one floor to save powering an entire building.

“This data is tangible,” Jerromes said. “It gives something to do today that will make a difference tomorrow. It’s also excellent for communication; using the dashboard, a business can easily show investors and other stakeholders exactly what’s going on in terms of consumption and behaviour, and what can be done about it.”

Pinergy’s new service is being welcomed by the wide range of the firm’s customers, Jerromes said. No matter the size of a business, it is experiencing utilities price rises. Many are committed to working toward lower energy consumption or even net zero.

“Energy prices are likely to be inflated for the next two years at least,” he said. “The security of supply is being questioned, with the worry of blackouts. These tools are helping property advisers to manage risks, as well as to have conversations with tenants about usage.”

Pinergy’s hope is that MaaS will help to change people’s behaviour. While the technology is there, this is the leap that a business must make by itself.

“We can’t change people’s behaviour, but we can give them the tools they need to make changes themselves,” he said. “Once people start using measurement, it becomes a no-brainer. With this service we’re pushing an open door now. Calls are coming in and this part of our business is only going to grow.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Pinergy and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. To learn more about how Studio B can help your team, reach out to studio@bisnow.com.