How to find the energy waste that may be costing you thousands

Tackling areas of energy waste is the first step in any management campaign – that’s the view of Jason Thackray, Head of Smart Services at BiU. We talked to Jason about how to harness your metering data to deliver instant savings.

What’s the biggest challenge to tackling energy waste?

It’s identifying the root cause. Take a retail chain, for example – they might have 200 to 1000 sites across the UK. If you’re the energy manager, it’s tough to interrogate the energy use at each one. You can look at your bills and say “that store has a higher energy spend than that store,” but it’s not always easy to see why that’s happening.

What’s the cost of doing nothing?

It varies of course, but if the source of the waste isn’t identified early on, it can cost serious money over time. For example, some wrongly adjusted HVAC controls could be costing an extra £288 a week. But if it’s not dealt with, it’s going to cost the company £15,000 over the year.

So how can companies easily identify energy waste?

You need to start by interrogating your metering data – that’s to say your half hourly or AMR data, and identifying anomalies. At BiU we do that by running all of the data through our Smart Alarms algorithms. It basically tells you where you are wasting energy, or potentially wasting energy.

How does it work?

We take the previous week’s consumption, looking at every half-hourly interval, and compare it to the previous four weeks.

If something’s spiked, or the baseload’s gone high, or it’s gone out of tolerance, it creates an alarm. That alarm produces a PDF output report.  We interrogate it internally. Is it something that looks like wasted energy? If so, we send that onto the customer and follow it up with a phone call. For example, we might tell them, “Your Bradford site baseload went up by 20% three nights last week, what’s gone on?”. It gives the customer a chance to go and investigate that site.

Does it help energy managers get to the root of the problem?

It means they can drill down to a specific area or site where energy use is unusually high. It might be a simple fix, like someone’s left the light on in the storeroom, or someone’s adjusted the air conditioning controls.

If the energy manager visits site and still can’t get to the bottom of what it was, then we can send one of our team out to site to investigate. We email the information back to our control centre and can usually identify the issue before our expert has even left site.

What savings can be made from tackling wasted energy?

Typically, we identify between 3% and 8% savings from wasted energy over a 12 month period. For a large customer with an energy spend of £2 million, for example, that’s a saving of £160,000 a year.

It goes to show that taking simple steps to energy efficiency can deliver a serious boost to a company’s bottom line.

The Energy Advice Hub is powered by BiU, the UK’s leading energy and utility consultancy. Email us at for advice on cost-effective ways to reduce your energy use.