Utility Invoices: 3 Tips for Effective Management
How does your district review utility invoices? While Energy Management encompasses many facets of your district’s facility plans and programming, thoroughly auditing utility bills shouldn’t be something you forego under the pressure of more “urgent” demands. The discipline to go through each site’s bill can really pay off. Plus, if you’re not taking advantage of The Oncor Incentive Programs, we can help you keep major money in your district!
Today, we’re sharing 3 tips on how auditing your utility invoices can reveal opportunities for more effective energy management.
1. Do not accept estimated bills
It’s very likely your provider sends estimated bills for your sites. In some cases, it could even be in the contract to provide one estimated bill a year. You must call the provider and require actual reads from the meters on every site. Let them know you will not pay estimated bills – this can cause you some real problems that we won’t get into. Suffices to say, auditing an estimate isn’t an effective way to gain energy learnings. And, you never want to pay out more of the district’s money than you really owe, or underpay so that you’re in a position to owe large amounts later.
2. Optimize your kW
Tracking the kW for each of your sites will help you lower utility bills. Think of it this way, the kWh usage is like the odometer on your car, but the kW is the speedometer. How fast do you have energy going into the building? The higher the kW, the higher the delivery charges for your energy. Here’s how to control it.
- Stagger your unit start times for every site, scheduling 10 – 15 minutes between each unit.
- Start with smaller demands first, like classrooms.
- When you get to big areas like cafeterias and gymnasiums, have one unit flip at a time, still staggering by 10 -15 minutes each.
- Track your scheduling against the kW use on your monthly bills to find the best optimization for your systems.
3. Monitor your Power Factor
Your monthly utility invoice includes a Power Factor. This represents how efficient your motors are in your buildings. This figure is calculated by the electric delivery provider and you basically have to be a nuclear physicist to understand it. What’s simple to understand is this: if your Power Factor is under 95%, you’ll have a penalty on your bill. If this is the case, you should do a cost analysis to determine if a Power Factor Capacitor should be purchased. A good rule of thumb is if your monthly penalty over 5 years could pay for the cost of the Power Factor Capacitor, it’s a good move for the district to make the investment. This is a site by site decision, based on your auditing of site bills.
It may seem obvious, but for every site’s bill, be sure you confirm these items.
- Billing Period (check that your previous payment was posted correctly)
- Site Name
- Bill Account Number
- ES ID Number
Utility companies can (and do) switch out meters on your sites without telling you. Be sure to physically check the meter numbers at your locations once a year. Changing meters creates opportunities for billing errors.
Bottom line: auditing the utility bills is a great way to track your energy usage, adjust your scheduling of HVAC units and project ROI for investing in energy-efficient systems.