Energy Utilization Index: Meters, Software Improve Facilities Monitoring
Energy meters should monitor electricity, gas, chilled water and steam, just as water meters monitor water use. Advanced meters can monitor energy or water systems daily, hourly or every 15 minutes and report the collected information to a remote system, which reports this data to the user.
Different types of meters target facilities’ various needs. For example, clamp-on meters communicate collected data on electricity use back to a data-collection server. Panel meters provide a local display and report to a server. Circuit monitors have local monitoring capabilities and can monitor power quality.
Circuit monitors are more important for monitoring the quality of power supplies for sensitive equipment. Technicians can use this data to troubleshoot the equipment.
Electricity, gas, steam and water meters usually have an accumulator and transmitter that communicate data from the meter, usually wirelessly, to a data-collection server. These systems then connect to a wide-area network and can monitor several facilities.
After it collects data, the software can provide demand profiles for energy and water use on a daily or hourly basis, or for even shorter periods. Technicians can translate this information into summaries of cost and use. The software also can send an alarm if over-use occurs.
Collecting this data is important for energy auditors, who use an energy utilization index (EUI) to create comparisons between different buildings and energy types. Auditors calculate an EUI by converting the energy used in a common unit, such as a Btu, and dividing it by the building’s square footage. Then they use the EUI to compare different buildings’ energy use. The Energy Star rating system is one example of a program that gives a building’s performance rating by comparing its power- and water-meter data with data from similar facilities.