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Sub-metering: Taking Energy Management To Another Level

Feb 2016

Through P272, Ofgem is changing how business energy usage is metered and billed for business classes 05 to 08.

The roll out of smart meters and the transition to half hourly billing should be seen by those businesses affected as a chance to uncover significant savings through Intelligent Demand Management, which is the concept of using energy at certain times and not at others to mitigate peak usage charges; and those with a responsibility for energy management would be wise to make use of the opportunity P272 presents.

For businesses with energy reduction at the top of their agenda, the requirement may exist for an even deeper insight into energy consumption. It is possible to go one step further when gathering and analyzing data by implementing a sub-metering strategy.

What is sub-metering?

Sub-metering involves the installation of additional meters that operate alongside the main building meter, to specifically gather data that relates to sections of a single site, or to pieces/categories of equipment. Sub-metering can serve to provide the most complete understanding of the way in which energy is used within a business, and can also be used to identify assets or processes where wastage may occur. For example, a food retailer with a sub-metering strategy in place would be able to identify when energy was being used by lighting, air-conditioning, refrigeration, or food preparation processes. They could then zone in on areas of higher consumption, identify the times at which consumption was highest in that area, and go on to identify where savings could be made.

Three main reasons to use sub-metering:

  1. To ensure the most granular breakdown of energy usage and energy waste; enabling you to report accurately on energy-hungry processes, and focus on reduction in areas of high usage
  1. To verify savings made by energy reduction schemes, understand which changes are working, and quantify return on investment for energy savings measures
  1. Where one main building meter is installed but costs are recovered from multiple tenants, sub-metering can ensure your billing to tenants is accurate, and costs are fully recoverable.

The first steps towards a sub-metering strategy:

The data that sub-metering creates can be an invaluable tool for a business focused on energy-reduction and cost-savings. However, the meters themselves are only a part of the story –  before sub-metering is adopted, there are several things which any business should consider:

Understand your objectives:

What exactly do you hope to achieve through sub-metering? Is your primary objective to reduce energy waste, or verify savings from changes to specific processes? Your aims and objectives will help to shape your sub-metering strategy and decide the number, location and type of sub-meter that you need. For example, those wishing to recover energy costs from tenants must be sure that meters conform to the Measuring Instruments Directive (MID 2004/22/EC).

Begin with a survey:

It’s important to have complete knowledge of your energy-using equipment and processes, if your sub-metering strategy is to be effective. A survey can help you to gain the visibility you need across your business, and will give you confidence that your sub-metering strategy will have the desired results.

Have a plan:

Once installation has taken place, it’s important to make proper use of the sub-metering data that is collected. Sub-metering has the potential to help you push up costs savings on your energy spend, but it is the way in which you use the data that will make all the difference. Once wastage or savings opportunities are identified, will you be able to act upon them?

Help when you need it:

If you are keen to fully understand your energy consumption, and understand how sub-metering could help you to optimize on possible costs savings, expert help is available.