Experience and mistakes teach us how to operate in a better way. What if we could record that same type of information for buildings?
Data from the past – from utility meter readings, interval data, or real-time data – provides the sort of insight you need to identify errors in judgment from the past and make improvements in the future. While you can get this data from your past manual meter readings or utility bill readings, collecting all of this information is a mountain of a task.
However, energy management platforms are able to synthesize historical consumption data with your new real-time data, enabling even better access to information to run your buildings better. Here’s how it works.
What is historical consumption data?
Every building has meter readings from the past that have recorded the amount of electricity, water, or gas consumption over a certain time period. These past meter readings become a data set known as historical utility consumption data. Utilities keep this information on file for years after the initial data points are recorded. However, utility customers rarely look at this data, much less use it in an effective way.
Other historical data can be collected at various intervals. More progressive utilities offer interval data from smart meters; utility customers can download this data through Green Button, an initiative of the Department of Energy. Interval data and real-time data can also be collected through various data collection methods, often offered by private vendors.
The type of historical data has two effects on its use:
- Shorter data recording intervals allow for more granular analysis of past data
- Data quality and verification can range greatly across various sources; with better data quality, you can make more accurate decisions.
Why Use Past Utility Data?
You can learn a lot from what has already happened. Particularly with historical data easily available from utility and other utility monitoring providers, you can easily aggregate your data to make effective choices about how to improve your building operations.
Let’s say you want to identify the month of highest energy consumption throughout the year so you can account for the higher electricity bills more effectively. By aggregating your historical data, you find that you consistently consume the most energy month-over-month in January than the rest of the year. This answers your initial question of identifying the month of costliest electricity bills. With a real-time energy monitoring system, you can then make calculated changes in the month of January to reduce your energy consumption, thereby lowering your overall utility spend for that month and allowing greater flexibility in your budget.
Combining historical consumption data with your real-time monitoring system will provide the best results because it allows you to benchmark your energy consumption against past performance, thus enabling more calculated adjustments and more effective action.
Have you taken advantage of the opportunities available with historical consumption data? Without understanding what your building consumed in the past, it’s difficult to accurately plan for the future. Identify your old data today and see how you can use it to better run your buildings.