There are a number of elements that play a major role in commercial energy management today, and data is a vital piece of this puzzle. The use of data allows for numerous insights regarding your business’s energy usage and controls alike, plus shows you where you need to consider making changes as you look to be as efficient as possible.
At Alternative Utility Services, Inc., we utilize data for numerous parts of our energy management and procurement programs, which range from energy audits and various building upgrades to capacity management, indoor air quality improvements and more. What important roles does data serve in all your energy management needs, and what are some qualities to consider in your data? Here’s a basic primer.
What Quality Data Looks Like
While it’s true that data is an enormously important part of your energy management and efficiency needs, you can’t just use any old data that happens to be lying around and expect results. Rather, the data needs to have some particular qualities that make it viable:
- Accuracy: First and foremost, your data needs to be accurate. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often data can be inaccurate, whether through sloppy record-keeping or because of actual errors. Make sure your data is coming from a reliable source that you trust before using it for energy management purposes. There should be tests and procedures in place for accuracy that are followed religiously.
- Completeness: In addition to being accurate, your data also needs to be complete. This means that you have all the information you need in order to make decisions based on that data. If your data set is incomplete, it can lead to incorrect conclusions and sub-optimal decision making.
- Timeliness: Another important quality of data is that it needs to be timely. This means that you have the most up-to-date information possible in order to make decisions. If your data is old, it might not be relevant anymore and could lead you astray.
- Consistent: An area that’s become more and more important in recent years is consistency in data. Data can be presented in a number of different formats, which can make it difficult to compare apples to apples. If your data is consistent, it will be much easier to work with and understand.
If your data has all of these qualities, you’re in good shape to use it for commercial energy management.
Benefits Found Through Quality Data
Specifically, here are some of the ways you stand to benefit if your data fits the criteria above:
- Strong forecasting and strategizing: When you have accurate, complete and timely data, you’re in a much better position to forecast future energy needs and develop strategies accordingly. This is vital for long-term planning purposes.
- Make more informed decisions: Good data also allows you to make smarter, more informed decisions about your energy usage. You can identify trends and problem areas much more easily, and make decisions accordingly.
- Save money: Perhaps most importantly, quality data can help you save money on your energy bills. When you have a clear understanding of your usage patterns, you can make changes to be more efficient and lower your costs.
- Compliance areas: In some cases, data is also important for compliance purposes. For example, if you’re required to report your energy usage to a government agency, accurate data is essential.
Data Themes to Consider
With all of the above in mind, what should you be thinking about when it comes to your company’s energy management data? Here are a few basic themes:
- Types of energy data being measured: The first step is understanding what types of energy data you need to be measuring. This will obviously vary depending on your business, but some common examples include electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, etc.
- Who is collecting the data: It’s also important to know who is responsible for collecting the data. Is it a central team within your company? Is it outsourced to a third party? Knowing who is responsible will help you ensure that the data is being collected correctly.
- Frequency of data collection: How often is the data being collected? In some cases, real-time data might be necessary, while in others, daily or weekly data might suffice. It all depends on your specific needs.
- Where is energy data stored: Once the data is collected, where is it stored? Is it in a central location that’s easy to access? Is it secure? Knowing where your data is located is important for both security and accessibility purposes.
- Possible gaps in data: Another important consideration is whether there are any possible gaps in your data. This could be due to missing data points, incorrect data, or anything else that might prevent you from having a complete picture.
- How data can be used for reporting: Once you have your data, how can it be used for reporting purposes? Can it be easily exported to a format that’s suitable for analysis? Are there any existing reporting templates that can be used?
- How data can be assembled: Finally, it’s also worth thinking about how your data can be assembled. Is it in a format that’s easy to work with? Can it be easily combined with other data sets? These are important considerations when it comes to actually using the data.
As you can see, there are a number of important factors to consider when it comes to energy management data. By keeping these themes in mind, you can be sure that you’re collecting the right data and using it in the most effective way possible.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our energy management services for businesses, speak to the team at Alternative Utility Services, Inc. today.
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