Saving energy costs in commercial & industrial buildings – the bird’s eye view makes the difference

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The prices for electricity and gas have only known one direction for months: steeply upwards. Added to this is the pressure from customers and employees to operate their own company more sustainably and to switch to low-carbon energy consumption. And in addition to the cost argument and the desire for more sustainability, there is now a, well, foreign policy component, because the high dependence of German industry and commerce on Russian energy imports has become drastically apparent in recent months. The leverage for society as a whole, which commercial and industrial electricity consumers can use, should not be underestimated: According to the Federal Environment Agency, commercial customers consume 70% of all electricity in Germany. But how can companies permanently reduce their energy costs and at the same time make their contribution to a successful energy transition?

What is the first measure to save energy costs?

Now we could write the hundredth blog post advising to use energy-saving lights, to replace outdated and inefficient air-conditioning systems or to raise employee awareness. None of this is wrong, but what is the first step to get energy costs down? What measures do companies start with when they want to save energy costs? This first step is often a high hurdle, because the well-intentioned advice is followed by concrete questions: Which devices in my company actually consume how much electricity? How inefficient is the air conditioning in my company compared to modern equipment? What immediate measures should I advise my employees to take in order to significantly reduce energy costs? It is therefore obvious that energy costs can only be saved if it is known where they actually arise. Building up knowledge about the various consumers in one’s own company is therefore the first sensible step in saving energy costs. Often, however, this knowledge is not available or is only available “as a rough guide” without the company having a reliable database. The measures that follow such an only approximate analysis of the current state therefore often miss out on achieving the actual optimum in savings. Ergo: Take a bird’s eye view of your company, start with a data-based analysis of energy consumption in your organisation.

How do energy consultants and energy management systems help to reduce energy costs?

In order to obtain a detailed analysis of the current energy consumption in your company, you have two options. You can hire energy consultants and/or introduce an energy management system (EnMS). Die The German Energy Agency recommends the use of EnMS if annual energy costs are above 20,000 Euros. So the first rule of thumb to start saving energy costs in your company is: If your energy costs per year are below 20,000 Euros, first hire an energy consultant who will conduct an analysis of your current energy consumption with you. If the annual energy costs are higher, you should look into energy management systems.
In both cases, you will get an overview of where exactly the biggest costs for energy occur in your company and which potentials for savings are linked to which concrete measures. The possible savings in the energy cost block are of course extremely dependent on the individual consumption profile. However, experience shows that local adjustments of the now transparent consumption achieve up to 15 % savings potential.

What are the advantages of energy management systems?

Energy management systems not only help companies to analyse the current state of energy costs and derive measures for savings, they are also the basis for more complex projects in the field of energy use. Let’s take the example of a supermarket chain that has introduced an energy management system. In the first step, the data of the individual consumption groups are now visible: cooling, lighting, heat generation. On this basis, investment decisions can be made to reduce energy consumption and thus energy costs. But the supermarket also has a photovoltaic system to generate its own electricity and a charging station for the customers’ electric vehicles. In order to achieve an ideal interaction of the components – keyword intelligent surplus charging – the use of an energy management system is necessary, for example to adapt the charging processes of the parked vehicles to the available amount of self-generated solar power. Or to benefit from variable electricity tariffs, which help to reduce energy costs if flexible consumers are controlled via the energy management system in such a way that they draw electricity from the grid especially during favourable hours.
Experience shows that the establishment of a holistic and efficient energy management system, which is continuously developed further, achieves additional savings potentials of up to 15 %. These savings result from further efficiency measures such as dynamic load management, intelligent plant control and / or energy market integration.