Step IV: Create a Proper Baseline
Whenever you implement an energy conservation measure it is critical to establish a proper baseline. One of the hardest parts of implementing a lighting retrofit of any kind is measuring a proper baseline. Light fixtures themselves are traditionally installed as Plug Loads. Plug loads typically have more than just lighting fixtures on them, because of this, it can be very difficult to properly measure the return on investment for a lighting retrofit.
One popular way to create a baseline is by creating a spreadsheet to create your initial baseline. This is usually done by gathering 12 – 24 months of utility bills to create a benchmark. Some of the data typically gathered at this point includes:
- KW (cost and consumption)
- kWh (cost and consumption)
- Rate Schedule
- Utility Bill Total
All of these data points are important to properly create a baseline of energy consumption before any ECM is implemented.
There are a number of problems that arise when you create a baseline using spreadsheets. The biggest is data entry. When you are manually entering data from utility bills errors can occur. It is very difficult for anybody to enter the amount of data needed to correctly create a benchmark for any ECM. When any error is made in the data entry process, properly calculating an ECM return on investment becomes almost impossible.
This process is also extremely time consuming. First, you have to gather all of the utility bills. This is usually done by either manually downloading them directly from the utility or by asking for the invoices themselves from whoever manages the accounts payable. This process can not only be extremely laborious but also very frustrating as you wait for some other person or department to get the data you need.
By creating a baseline using a spreadsheet you fail to take into account a critical step in any energy management process. Weather Normalization. Utility Bills are vague in nature and do not take into consideration the weather data that effects your energy consumption. Using a spreadsheet, it is almost impossible to manually include weather normalization without creating a more complex spreadsheet than necessary.
Utility Bill Automation
Luckily, this can be easily solved by automating your utility bill process. By having your utility bills automated, not only are data errors extremely low, data is normalized for weather and the bills are at your fingertips. The Vitality Utility Bill Automation feature allows you to create an ECM baseline at a click of a button. This allows you to save time and energy by providing everything you need to properly measure the ROI of your ECMs.
Next to utility bill automation, Real-Time Metering is the easiest way to measure return on investment or ROI. By having metering installed on the proper circuits you are able to see exactly what the lighting load effects are on your energy consumption before the lighting retrofit is started.
We have seen a number of cases where lighting affects energy consumption in different ways other than expected. By having real-time metering you can see how lighting directly affects your demand and attribute a more realistic ROI.
Real-Time Metering also gives you a visual representation of your ROI. This is done by visualizing the before and after energy consumption of lighting. If done properly, you will be able to see the data on the graphs decrease (or heaven forbid increase) after your retrofit.
After you have all of the proper data collected and created a baseline that is reliable, now you can properly implement the lighting retrofit and measure the benefits.
A quick review of the 7 steps to a successful LED so far.
- Identify high wattage fixtures and lamps.
- Investigate the possibility of removing fixtures and/or lamps.
- Consider all types of LED lamps and fixtures