Make Your Business More Efficient With Utility Tracking Software
With the increased awareness of the environmental need and economic benefits of going green, companies are measuring and managing their footprints more than ever before. And a number of software tools to help companies keep track of those footprints have hit the market to meet that demand. One area that offers plenty of benefits, but can also be confusing in its complexity is utility tracking software.
We have rounded up some of what we feel are the best and most popular utility tracking solutions for a small to medium sized business. While no one solution may be perfect for all of your needs, some of these can come very close. In fact, after a few cycles tracking your utility usage, some patterns for savings may become very apparent. Let's take a look at the solutions.
EnergyCAP Utility Bill Tracking
EnergyCAP is an online solution that offers extensive reporting, charting, and graphing tools that help to pinpoint the trouble spots in your utility usage. Small businesses with less than 50 utility meters are recommended to utilize a consulting solution that still gives full access for a low monthly service fee, and large companies can use the solution directly.
A lot of big name business entities use EnergyCAP, ranging from universities to wholesale clubs, as well as several city and state governments. The results must be positive, as an example quote on their website shows:
"EnergyCAP is a critical component of our goal to reduce energy consumption in state facilities. After two years of experience, we have paid for the system two times through identified utility savings."
-- David Godfrey, State Utilities Program Manager, Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority
The EnergyCAP utility tracking solution has many aspects that can help businesses handle their utility usage. With such features as a work flow manager, a link to scanned bill images, a memo and message system, the ability to track standard and deregulated bills, and a user-friendly interface, it easy to see why over a thousand clients find EnergyCAP a strong utility tracking solution.
Abraxas Metrix 4
The Abraxas Metrix 4 Utility Accounting System is a software solution that can help your business become more green while saving money. Let's face it -- trying to monitor and save on energy expenses can be a difficult thing to do when record cold snaps and unusually hot summers pound the utility bills. Just when you know you have saved a lot of energy waste, here comes a record energy bill that shatters expectations. It can be frustrating to any size business trying to go green and save money.
This is where Metrix really shines. Metrix can take into account Mother Nature with its ability for weather normalization (aka weather tuning or weather correction). By taking into account weather variations, accurate energy usage can be gauged. Instead of an inclement weather season derailing your energy program, you can make your business greener faster without the need of multiple seasons to find the results.
Of course Metrix can do more than just correct for weather in its analysis. You will also find benchmarking and load factor analysis along with energy usage pattern deltas. The software will also allow you to set a tangible savings target and track your progress towards that goal. You can even find rate analysis -- to be sure that things are as you would expect.
The reports are presented in an industry standard excel format, making it easy to use in your reports and independent analysis. Best of all, there is even a free 30 day demo to let you see how Metrix can fit into your business and its needs.
Energy Expert is designed to become a virtual energy model of your building, and in doing so can compare energy use variations against its accepted norm. This comparison can give you details about any energy overuse (or underuse) quickly and reliably. It can also conveniently alert you via email notification.
The notifications contain links to take you right to the data at hand, where you can verify the exception through data tables and graphs. This lets you work towards keeping your energy program as exceptions happen (and of course they do). Meter data collection can be done through a wireless GSM cellular network, keeping the data set automatically up to date in an interval that is acceptable for detailed reporting.
In addition to monitoring and notifications, the software also provides a calendar view (below) to allow for quick historical views of your utility usage. The monthly view gives a quick snapshot of your utility efforts over the month, and you can drill down to daily information for a clear view of the data represented by the daily charting present on the calendar.
NorthWrite, Inc., the producers of Energy Expert, received the Federal Laboratory Consortium 2008 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. The award recognizes outstanding achievement for transferring federally developed technology to the marketplace, and is awarded by a panel of experts from industry, government, and academia sources.
Utility Manager captures utility data for analysis, and serves out the results in 250 detailed reports that can show energy usage and cost. Through this process businesses can measure the effectiveness of their energy saving efforts.
Utility Manager can be used as an online utility tracking solution or as a software based detailed reporting/data entry tool. This allows it to scale as a single user tracking system at a single site to a corporate wide solution with many users having online access for multiple sites.
The software based utility tracker comes in two distinct packages, based on the size of your business. For businesses with 500 meters or less the Utility Manager Pro is recommended. The Pro version can interface with many accounting systems to facilitate bill paying and G/L. For larger companies using greater than 500 meters the Utility Manager Server application is suggested, and it too can interface with many popular accounting packages.
The robust reporting in Utility Manager includes many detailed areas of importance, including:
- Cost Avoidance
- Energy Star
- Bill Processing
- Bill Payment
- Procurement Savings
With this wide area of reports, and the ability to customize and import them into Excel and other packages for even further analysis, it is easy to see how Utility Manager can be an effective tool in your businesses' energy management needs.
Demand Response Quick Assessment tool
The free Demand Response Quick Assessment Tool can help a business determine if building demand responsive controls can be an asset in your energy strategies, if applicable for your area (right now it is used by California companies). The tool can predict the savings and comfort impact for various on demand utility strategies.
Once basic building information is entered, the program can use a simulation model to help determine a strategy that works best for the intended target. Strategies include such actions as pre-cooling, zoned temperatures, chilled water loops, and air loop set points. While the locations are limited as far as using demand response in the typical energy plans, the potential definitely makes it worth considering... if available in your case.
While this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of utility tracking solution for your business, it is intended to introduce you to some of the solutions in existence and to get you thinking about how your business can profit from such applications. After all, with the rewards being a clean image and a better bottom line -- what more can you ask for?
D. Salmons is a freelance writer and social media consultant for several companies, ranging from individuals to Fortune 500. She is a bit of a geek and enjoys writing about tech and gadgets at TestFreaks. She strives to reduce her carbon footprint and teach her son how to be environmentally aware and respectful of his environment.