If you ever lived in a building complex you are well aware of the lack of energy option for tenants. There is usually no energy management system in place to monitor each individual unit to track there electricity cost. Many older and even newer buildings include a single master meter that will only trace the inflow of electricity for the entire facility, since electricity is usually purchased at a bulk rate. With no system in place to monitor the load after it passes the master meter it becomes difficult for building managers to provide proper energy solutions.

What is Submetering

Submetering involves a network of power meters that are specifically designed to monitor the energy consumption of individual unit. They can be configured in a variety of ways using various protocols. One of the more popular communication method for building automation is BACnet. It is capable of providing tenants and building managers real-time energy usage data that can be utilized to manage billing cost.

Benefit of Submeters

  • Accurate energy monitoring to Identify of unnecessary equipment running at night, off shift, or during the weekend;
  • Comparison and benchmarking of usage across similar facilities (stores, warehouses, or buildings) and over time;
  • Provides actual usage data for billing purpose;
  • Detection of utility bill errors by comparing submeter usage with the actual utility bill;
  • Verifies savings from energy improvement projects
  • Better management of electricity usage when a facility faces demand limited or peak usage pricing from the utility
  • Identifies performance improvements and guides preventive maintenance:
  • Helps to compile baseline energy use for setting contractual terms with an energy service company (ESCO)
  • Enables quick response to failures of system components, with help of an energy management system (EMS)
  • Assists in making decisions about energy upgrades in buildings by comparing energy use in similar facilities.

Tenant Billing Dilemma

One of the most obvious complication with the current tenant billing system is how energy usage is distributed to each unit. Without a system in place to monitor where energy flows it creates an inefficient environment where tenants are unaware of the true cost of there electricity bill. If tenants are only consuming a fraction of the energy purchased, their real kWh cost is much higher than the paid price.

Since the cost of utility consumption are often invoiced on a pro-rata basis it leaves the consumer with the inability to make energy decisions. Often times tenants consume far less energy than what they are paying for on the market. Submetering allows users to be more energy efficient while providing them a better solution to manage the amount of electricity they consume.

Commercial and Manufacturing Facilities

It is even more crucial for Industrial automationcommercial buildings, manufacturers, transit systems and data centres monitor energy cost to ensure expenses are kept to a minimum. Utilities typically charge commercial and industrial facilities based on consumption (kWh) and/or current demand (kW). The industrial sector in the United States alone accounts for 31 percent of all energy consumption with manufacturing comprising a large chunk of that sector. With the need to run day-to-day operations energy management systems ensure the energy usage and power quality are optimally sustained in an organization.

Red Electrica de España, a grid management company, provides an interesting tool that outputs a time series graph showing peak energy demand for any given period. A look at the data range from May 8th to 14th, 2016 shows a typical power consumption pattern throughout the week for residential and commercial facilities. During high peak hours kWh increases to greater rate. Understanding energy trends and peak demand can better equip energy managers when implementing energy decisions.

Environmental Consequences

Many companies are not only realizing the cost benefits of having a better energy management system but also the positive impact it will have on the environment. It aims to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing output levels. EMS is a step towards providing a more sustainable future.

With the ability to control energy decision to reduce cost for both residential and commercial operations and the added benefit of creating positive environmental impact, submetering is fast becoming an essential for infrastructure planning.

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