Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

How to monitor your energy use

How to monitor your energy use

You can't manage what you don't measure. So, to find out how much energy your business wastes and how much money you can save, you need to monitor your energy use.

Understanding your energy bill

Monitor your meters

Take regular meter readings and compare consumption to previous months. Remember:

  • When comparing fuel used for heating your premises, take into account how cold it's been. The colder the period, the more energy you will use.
  • If you're comparing energy used in production, consider your output. The best way to do this is to record energy used per item produced. Or, in offices, by floor spaces or staff numbers.

Plotting these against each other will help you spot where you can make changes. Simple changes can often result in major savings. For example, you could identify equipment that's not used at weekends and make sure it's switched off on Friday evenings.

Advanced meters

There are many types of advanced metering systems available. These can give you a detailed picture of energy use within your business - far beyond that offered by the basic meter provided by your energy supplier. These include:

  • half hourly meters record how much energy is used every 30 minutes - useful for analysing energy-use patterns
  • sub meters allow you to monitor specific areas or processes
  • a plug-in meter can be 'sandwiched' between a power socket and the plug of the appliance to be monitored - these are cheap and handy for measuring small loads
  • clamp on meters offer a non-invasive way of monitoring hot water flow - these are often used to identify large consumers of energy in large factories.

Carbon Trust: Monitoring your energy use (PDF, 4.8MB)

Zero Waste Scotland: Save energy and save money

Smart meters

Smart electricity and gas meters are being introduced which will help businesses and consumers cut their bills. Smart meters give live readings and comparisons which show you instantly how much energy you're using. This will mean you can tailor your consumption to take advantage of cheaper rates for off-peak usage. Readings are also automatically sent to the supplier - so bills will always be accurate.

It's expected that over the next ten years all businesses and homes will have a smart meter installed. With some suppliers already advertising these types of meter, there are opportunities to take advantage of this technology now.

Perform a walk-round survey

A good way to assess your business' energy use is to carry out a walk-round survey. This will help you spot equipment and processes that are inefficient.

Carbon Trust: How to perform a walk round survey (PDF, 416K)

Zero Waste Scotland has produced a series of free, online training modules for SMEs. The training will help develop the skills and knowledge needed to put in place effective resource efficiency measures in your business. They deal with energy, waste and water efficiency. You can work through them at your own speed, choosing the modules that are relevant to your business.

ZWS: Green Champions Training

Further information

GOV.UK: Smart meters

In this Guideline

Simple ways to save energy

How to monitor your energy use

Create an energy efficient work culture

Energy efficiency tips for different types of business

Financing loans and tax incentives for energy efficient equipment

Energy efficiency: sources of advice and financial help

Checklist: Using energy efficiently

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