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Using Energy Management Software to Minimise Energy Costs

High energy cost periods in the day can have an enormous impact on how much a business pays for their energy. Using energy management software, businesses can minimise their consumption during these hours and save money.

The way we produce and consume energy these days allows a kind of flexibility between the grid and the consumer that was unheard of in the past. Renewable energy generation, storage batteries and energy management systems (EnMS) are critical to today’s energy ecosystem and have some compelling use cases for energy efficiency and sustainability in the commercial and industrial environment.

In this article, I’d like to explore some of the ways energy management software can facilitate major cost savings through DUoS avoidance, and open up new revenue streams through demand side response (DSR).

First, let’s get the jargon out of the way: Demand side response and DUoS are terms that both relate to how businesses interact with the grid.

national grid energy pylons

What is DUoS?

Distribution Use of System, or DUoS, contributes partly to what you pay for energy. This is a contribution to the installation and maintenance of distribution networks. DuOS charges occur during different periods of the day, known as red, amber and green periods, and are calculated based on the amount of energy you use during these periods of high demand. Red periods tend to occur between 16:00 and 19:00 and therefore energy consumption during these times will result in higher costs. It’s worth noting this is only applicable to businesses with a ‘Time of Use’ energy tariff that are NOT classed as a large business.

**Since April 2023, large businesses will be unable to make savings through scheduling energy use around DUoS red periods.

What is Demand Side Response (DSR)?

Commercial and industrial businesses can choose to take part in Demand Side Response, meaning the national grid will send signals when energy demand is high and participating businesses can react in real-time for financial incentives. This opens up a new revenue stream, reduces energy bills and contributes to sustainability initiatives.

Why are businesses using Energy Management Software?

The nature of energy management intrinsically draws a line between saving money and operating sustainably – with the national drive to net zero and an energy crisis taking place in tandem, you can understand the motive for using an EMS. Many businesses express a core desire to understand their consumption as a step towards carbon neutrality and to help reduce enormous energy bills. Gaining connectivity to assets, and visibility of asset/energy data is the fundamental first step to identifying areas where efficiencies can be made.

However, the future looks to energy management software that can do more than just that, going one step further with automated control of assets in response to environmental changes (like energy demand increases). This means that after the initial setup, no manual intervention will be required to reduce energy consumption for high-demand areas of your estate. I can recommend you an energy management platform that does this 😉

How to Use Energy Management Software to save on energy costs during DUoS periods

Let’s say you’re on a ‘Time of Use’ energy tariff and you want to minimise charges during red DUoS periods, but you’re wondering where to begin. At the core of this is understanding your consumption on a granular level and identifying inefficiencies, in order to make meaningful changes to the way your business operates during DUoS periods. Knowing exactly how much energy your assets are using or need to be using, and during what periods of the day will allow you to create a baseline that you can make changes around. There are ways to use an EMS to get really creative with this…

Hark recently attended the No Code Super Hack event by No Code Lab, an event designed to pair a non-tech business with software companies to create powerful solutions in a matter of hours. Joining us was Leeds Teaching Hospitals, who were looking for intuitive energy solutions to aid them in their journey to net zero by 2040. Well, that being exactly our bag, you can imagine our delight.

On the day of the event we “connected” (for the event we actually emulated example data) to a series of hospital assets that the team wanted to monitor, one of which was lighting rigs in three zones of the hospital. In our demonstration, we wanted to show how we can automate lighting based on: signals sent from the grid, time of day or other factors.

Below is an example of a small dashboard we set up. The graph is showing lux levels, and the boxes show how much power (percentage) is feeding each lighting zone. During regular hours, this data remains at the standard rate.

The hark platform with a small lighting dashboard tracking power and lux levels for three lighting zones

During a red DUoS period the power going to these lighting zones would automatically reduce, therefore bringing down the lux levels and the overall energy consumption.

The hark platform with a small lighting dashboard tracking power and lux levels for three lighting zones after a DUoS red period trigger

These kinds of clever automations are only possible with a powerful energy management system like The Hark Platform, and this is just one small example. The possibilities for saving money and becoming more efficient here are huge.

Can Energy Management Software be used for Demand Side Response (DSR)?

A huge benefit of Energy Management Software is the ability to participate in grid services, meaning when the UK national grid is under constraint, a signal will be sent to all participating industrial and commercial businesses, allowing them to respond by reducing consumption. This results in lower energy bills and provides payment to those who accept DSR offers.

Energy management software can be used to automatically make changes when a DSR signal is received, such as dimming lights, or reducing power sent to other assets.

The bottom line is this: without knowing how your estate performs, you can’t know where efficiencies can be made and can’t make savings. By using an EMS to identify these areas, you’re empowered to make decisions that help you operate more efficiently during DUoS periods. A top-tier EMS (like The Hark Platform) will allow you to remotely and automatically control assets during set times or in response to grid signals to automate the process.

Get connected and start saving today

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