Demand side management of energy is not a new concept. It’s been around since the energy crises of the 1970s and refers to the management of consumer demand for energy. You may know it is energy efficiency or simply reducing your use of energy. However, it has become more relevant than ever in recent years.
Energy and business
If you run a business, the idea of any interference in the way you manage your energy may cause concern. After all, you rely on energy for lighting, business equipment and manufacturing plants.
But demand side management or energy efficiency doesn’t mean the government or energy companies are intent on making unilateral decisions to cut the electricity and gas you receive. The idea is more subtle than this. It involves shifting the use of energy through technology and incentives. By taking advantage of these, you could improve the way you control energy use and save money at the same time.
In business, one of your main operational costs is energy. Electricity and gas consumption for offices and other premises eats into your profitability.
To make matters worse, you may be using much of this energy unnecessarily. According to British Gas, the average UK business wastes 46% of its electricity by leaving lights and appliances on when no one is around.
Energy demand side management and technology
The technological aspect of demand side management can put you in control of your energy costs. For example, most new commercial property in the UK now comes with a BMS (building management system).
A BMS links the energy use of your heating, lighting, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) systems to a computer server. Through the server, you can control up to 84% of your building’s energy. You achieve this by setting energy parameters to match your business needs.
You don’t have to occupy a new building to benefit. You can retrofit a BMS installation in older properties.
You may also have particular energy needs such as temperature and lighting control. By using sensors, a mini BMS solution lets you monitor your appliances and keep energy consumption as low as possible.
Energy management platform
You can improve an existing BMS still further with an energy management platform. These often come with real-time reports of your energy usage based on your building’s separate utilities.
Incentives for modifying energy use
The UK government is keen to use demand side management techniques to modify energy use. Politicians are aware they cannot necessarily cut overall consumption but they want to encourage businesses to switch to off-peak energy. This would reduce the need to build more power plants and to expand energy networks.
Your business, of course, may work set hours. Modifying peak-time energy use may seem impractical unless you can initiate changes in working patterns. Nonetheless, the UK’s Low Carbon Networks Fund of £500m aims to consider these issues and promote demand side management solutions.