You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure: Why Goals and Benchmarks Are Essential to Cutting Energy Costs
If you’re responsible for energy management in your organization, you know first-hand that energy consumption has a significant impact on your company’s overall performance. Reducing energy costs has a direct influence on your bottom line, so improving energy efficiency is an extremely important job.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” In order to effectively manage your energy consumption, you first need to understand how you’re using energy. Knowing your consumption will enable you to measure and benchmark your usage, set realistic goals and implement best practices for saving.
Set Realistic Energy Consumption Goals
Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step in your energy management journey. Something as simple as setting goals can make a marked difference to your energy bills. It’s important to set realistic goals, but in order to do this, you must understand your electricity usage patterns.
Knowing the basics of your electricity usage patterns will help you identify areas to focus on for improvement. Consider how you use your electricity; how much electricity you are using; whether your usage is flat throughout the day, or if there are spikes; and whether usage patterns change daily, monthly, or seasonally. Your electricity costs are driven not only by how much electricity you use, but also by when you use it. Using more electricity during peak demand hours will increase your overall average electricity cost. See Kate’s blog on Deciphering Your Electricity Bill for more on that topic.
Once you understand how you use your electricity, it’s important to build out a baseline for your usage as a starting point from which to set goals and measure future performance. Best practices are to take an average of your usage over the last 24 months as a baseline to measure against. Set baselines to mark your current state and measure your performance over time, so that you can observe and track how your business decisions influence your energy consumption and spend.
Establish Meaningful Energy Consumption Benchmarks
Benchmark your performance against internal and/or external comparison groups, so that you can identify outliers and take action to eliminate the anomalies that are costing you money. Benchmarking helps you understand how you’re performing, identifies performance gaps and improvement opportunities, and highlights successes.
Incorporating proven procedures like goal setting and benchmarking into your energy management program will have a positive impact on cost reduction, and so will getting your entire organization involved.
Don’t Go It Alone – Involve the Entire Organization in Energy Conservation
Businesses do not create energy savings – people do. The heart of any organization is its employees, and harnessing their ideas to drive energy conservation can yield substantial savings that benefit your bottom line.
Up to 20% of the energy we currently consume can be saved through changing behaviours, but there is often a general lack of knowledge, awareness and resources around how to implement an energy program company wide. How often have we all been part of programs that start out strong but are not sustainable? Your organization cannot afford to have your energy management program in that category. Employee engagement is key, and I’ve found that Prosci’s ADKAR1 model for change can effectively be used to spur an organization to conserve energy. ADKAR is a proven model for change that you that will enable you to put together a sustainable program and not just a “flavour of the month” activity. ADKAR stands for:
- Awareness of the business reasons for change – communicate why it’s important to conserve energy in your facility;
- Desire to help make the change – ensure that your organization is engaged and gets behind your energy conservation initiatives;
- Knowledge about how to change – empower your employees with information on how they can contribute to energy savings;
- Ability to realize the change – give your employees specific and attainable conservation goals; and
- Reinforcement to ensure the change is permanent – ensure that employees don’t revert to old bad habits, by reinforcing the importance of energy conservation through training, coaching and positive reinforcement.
An effective energy management program is a continuous process and one that involves incorporating the entire organization, as well as proven business practices – like goal setting and benchmarking – to manage costs. We have a solution that can help you with your energy management efforts: The Bruce Power Saver. By aggregating your energy information from various locations into a single cloud-based management system, it helps you understand your energy consumption patterns, set conservation goals and benchmarks and identify cost savings.
Learn how the Bruce Power Saver can help you track your energy management goals. Download our overview.