BlogDec 12, 2018

Measuring to Manage: How to Budget for Building Energy Costs


It’s that time of year again–budgeting season. And once again, many of us will be looking for ways to reduce costs and improve the bottom line.

Benchmarking energy costs using utility data is the most effective way for companies to gain the insight they need to make building adjustments to lower energy use. In the “old days,” budgeting for energy was often a matter of looking at current costs, adding two percent and hoping for the best. But you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Fortunately, energy benchmarking solutions, like EnergyPrint, have made it much easier for building owners and managers to get a clear picture of how they’re using energy and where there’s opportunity for improvement.

HOM Furniture, one of the nation’s largest furniture retailers in the upper Midwest, has been benchmarking energy consumption for their stores for more than eight years. They use utility data analytics to budget annual utility costs and to prioritize projects that will provide the best energy savings.

“Each year as I plan my facilities budget, I review the last two years of data in EnergyPrint’s Utility Dashboard along with the utility companies’ projected rate changes to create our energy budget for the coming year,” said John Pierce, HOM Furniture’s real estate manager. “Since I’ve started benchmarking, my budgets have been spot on each year.”

Pierce also uses energy benchmarking to determine capital expenditures. “Using trend information, I may decide to add more insulation under a roof or make lighting improvements. By benchmarking across my portfolio, I can also prioritize HVAC investments,” Pierce said.

Top Tips for Budgeting with Benchmarking

Here are just a few examples of how to use energy benchmarking to effectively budget for building energy expenses:

  • Understand building performance
    With the right benchmarking solution, you can review cost, consumption and carbon data, weather normalized insight, cost avoidance and ENERGY STAR®. Data visualization services can help you prioritize where to focus attention by tracking how your energy use and expense has changed over time.
  • Measure the value of capital improvements
    Know the impact of every investment, large or small, and leverage utility data to find even more ways to improve. Has that HVAC project paid off? Did adding more insulation make a difference or do you need to consider other measures?
  • Ask better questions
    Once you truly start to track your energy consumption in a way that is simple and easy to review, you will see patterns and anomalies, allowing you to dig deeper to understand what’s driving your energy consumption. Sometimes, the answer is simple. Do you have a new facilities manager who is turning the heat up or down? Other times, it’s more complex. Do you have outdated HVAC equipment and how can you best address upgrading without breaking the bank?
  • Use data to drive tenant behavior
    Engage tenants by sharing simple, objective facts about performance, like your building’s total energy use or ENERGY STAR score. Display posters in your building with energy efficiency goals, or add them to tenant letters or email blasts. Good data can you explain to tenants the importance of their participation in energy initiatives and the potential impact it will have on their own wallets.

The bottom line? Benchmarking energy performance can have real impact on your bottom line.

Ready to learn more about how EnergyPrint’s utility data and reporting solutions can help you budget better for your buildings’ annual energy costs? Contact us.