The key to saving on energy costs is the efficient management of energy flows. Quality monitoring can help companies.

Building and business owners are looking at how to optimize energy costs and generally, how to correctly set up their energy concept. They are aware that they must improve their energy management, as energy costs will significantly determine a company's competitiveness in the near future. Easily achievable savings are often already exhausted, and it becomes necessary to look for more sophisticated solutions. This can include detailed monitoring of consumption, which reveals inefficiencies and the centralization of energy flow management.

Starting this year, there are new requirements in the field of non-financial reporting, and companies will need to consider the operation of their buildings as well. Their owners are thinking more about the impact on the environment and sustainability in general, but also about the possibilities for savings. These are offered mainly in the area of energy. Efficient management of energy flows in a building is an effective way to reduce not only bills but also the carbon footprint.

The first step to improvement is to identify what energy flows we have in the building and to monitor them in detail. This will give us a comprehensive overview of where and on what specifically the company spends money. Then, it's possible to handle individual elements of the system more efficiently and easily manage them. For the company, this means saving money on energy, reducing emissions, and in the second phase, also improving the ESG score.

How to achieve energy savings?

Energy is one of the main expenditure items for companies, and the easy ways to achieve energy savings are mostly exhausted. Quick savings could include photovoltaics on the roof, insulation, or the installation of a heat pump. However, if we do not know how to integrate these individual steps into a functional whole, they will not have the effect they could have. Therefore, we must look for more sophisticated solutions for saving on energy. But where to start?

Companies typically encounter the following obstacles when looking for solutions:

  • At first glance, it is often not obvious where savings are possible.
  • Missing data for strategic decisions – it is necessary to know the extent of inefficiency in energy management for the company to decide whether and possibly how much it makes sense to address it.
  • The path to solving inefficiency is usually a combination of multiple solutions. For instance, investing in photovoltaics alone is not sufficient; it's necessary to also consider battery systems, dynamic management, flexibility, or participation in an energy community. Proper orchestration again requires sufficient data overview (for example, to determine the efficiency of a photovoltaic installation, you need to know your daily consumption profile).

Moreover, companies are also affected by external circumstances:

  • Pressure on planning and management capabilities – for a company to be flexible in consumption, it needs to be able to plan and manage its consumption.
  • Financial incentives for consumption according to the supplier's capabilities – a company that manages energy flows flexibly can obtain better conditions (for example, through the dynamic use of spot prices, etc.).
  • Opportunities to participate in new energy models such as flexibility or community energy. Such participation can significantly reduce the unit price, for example, to the actual cost value of production.
  • Companies must also consider legislative obligations from emission permits to the mentioned ESG reporting – and not only companies obligated by reporting but also their subcontractors.

Detailed Consumption Monitoring

Without detailed monitoring, you cannot make the right decisions. Do you have an overview of the energy flows of your building or factory? Do you know the values from the main and auxiliary meters? A basic visual representation of consumption over time, for example, by days or throughout the year, can significantly help in the overview.

However, such a display usually cannot help find further static and dynamic inefficiencies. It is necessary to use special metrics (energy performance indicators, EnPIs), which clearly highlight individual types of inefficiencies in the data. Based on such a display, it is then possible to detect when actual consumption differs from optimal, economically or carbon-efficient consumption. The next step is to find out why this is the case.

How to evaluate if the consumption is inefficient?

Inefficiencies can have various peak sizes (short-term maximums), various frequencies of occurrence, and various durations. A quality analytical and management system allows not only detecting inefficiency but also calculating its total financial or carbon size. It helps to set priorities for individual corrective measures and eliminate often difficult and inaccurate investment decisions in energy measures and technologies without knowing the necessary numbers. With knowledge of the size and structure of inefficiency, the FLOWBOX system enables determining the required return on investment and sets a budget for economically efficient implementation of measures. The company thus gains a strong tool for negotiations with suppliers and also specific numbers useful in company decision-making. The same tool can be used to measure and quantify the impact of the implemented measure.

You can calculate your energy maturity on the website here>>

Without the ability to properly monitor and analyze, it is not possible to manage a company efficiently

The goal of analyzing energy flows is to determine which parts of the operation are efficient and which, on the contrary, waste energy. Individual inefficiencies usually have a lower size (although significant in total) compared to the overall input of the company. They are recognizable only in the context of individual branches of the energy network. Therefore, it is advisable to divide each energy unit into as small controllable blocks as possible, which can be analyzed. These blocks can include, for example, lighting, small appliances, industrial machines, or heating. Thanks to the division, you will have an overview of each block separately.

For each block's consumption, we clearly distinguish its two components: the expected consumption size, which is predictable, and unexpected consumption. The FLOWBOX tool will help understand why the unexpected consumption occurred (for example, due to an extraordinary shift, service, or outage) and will help confirm when it is a case of genuine inefficiency. Understanding all flows requires time and a certain amount of work done, but the effort will eventually return manifold in the form of saved energy costs.

"A simple example of energy flow analysis can be managed by any company, even without sophisticated tools. However, having an easily manageable system is a huge advantage for complex and continuous measurement. Precisely because companies had a great interest in trying out advanced measurement, we offer a package of advanced measurement and analysis services on a trial basis at Flowbox," says Radek Fiala, product manager at Flowbox.

You can manage a simple example of data management yourself.
How to build your own efficiency curve?

1.Take data from the meter for a month:

Choose a block (for example, a smaller production hall) for which you know which machines/main appliances you have (you should have mapped at least 80% of them).

2.Construct a static estimate of consumption:

Estimate the monthly consumption for each device. The monthly consumption of a device = power input (calculated in kW) * number of working days * average number of hours the machine is used during one working day.

Sum the estimated consumptions for all devices in the chosen block.

Subtract the sum of the estimated consumptions from the total consumption (kWh) for the month.

The result is your first balance of unexpected consumption. If you get a large number, for example, 30% of consumption or more, you should check your estimate, and if it is correct, you can look for reasons for the unexpected/inefficient consumption.

3.Determine your budget for efficiency improvement:

Multiply the total sum of calculated monthly inefficiency by twelve to get a budget you can spend on correcting inefficiency with a return on investment of 12 months.

4.Analysis of options:

To fully test the possibilities of professional analysis on your own data, you can order a test package from FLOWBOX.

Dividing into blocks pays off in energy management

The "divide and rule" strategy is a proven method in the modern energy industry.

"If individual consumption blocks can be measured and controlled separately, not only can you ensure their greater efficiency over time more precisely, but you can also subsequently connect them into an automated, centrally managed unit. In conjunction with suitable algorithmization, this can almost work magic with consumption," describes Radek Fiala.

Central energy management in permanent mode

The basic step of long-term effective energy strategy management is the continuous search for inefficiencies and the implementation of corrective measures. Some phenomena are so dynamic that corrective action must be taken within minutes or even seconds. Managing such dynamics is beyond human capacity, hence the need for an automated energy system.

For automatic energy management to be as efficient as possible, it must be able to react almost instantly to external conditions, such as significant changes in electricity prices, short-term shading of one's photovoltaic system, or, for example, an unfavorable weather forecast. The entire energy system must respond as a whole to these stimuli, which is usually not possible, so it is necessary to divide the whole into the smallest possible parts and make maximum use of their current flexibility. It is then important to issue the correct series of instructions (automated algorithm).

One of the options for efficiently managing energy flows is the use of data intelligence tools.

"There are several ways to centrally manage the energy system. The first option is control based on primary variables that we directly measure, such as the achieved temperature, or more sophisticatedly, based on the temperature difference inside and outside the building, or even the current energy price. The second option is to calculate Energy Performance Indicators. These can detect, for example, low cooling efficiency affected by a combination of conditions. The cause could be open windows or a technical fault in operation. The Flowbox system can evaluate these indicators automatically and also control the systems. However, the prerequisite for good automatic control remains correct and centrally connected data and correctly measured and set control parameters," concludes Radek Fiala.

Author: Team of FLOWBOX and Radek Fiala, product manager(FLOWBOX) and the editorial team of

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