Identifying Energy Savings with the Tinytag Energy Logger
For high consumers of electricity, using an energy consumption monitoring device can be an effective means of checking power usage and can lead to energy savings.
The Tinytag Energy Logger is a portable data recorder which monitors electricity consumption typically in premises with high consumption equipment. Power monitoring can help achieve energy efficiency targets and lead to cost savings.
Effective energy monitoring not only assists with reducing energy consumption and costs, but is of particular relevance for organisations aiming to achieve or maintain the ISO 14001 environmental standard. ISO 14001 states that objectives and targets shall be measurable, where practicable, and that an organisation should regularly monitor and measure the key characteristics of its operations that can have a significant environmental impact - of which electricity consumption can be one.
Regular monitoring electricity consumption with tools such as the Tinytag Energy Logger can be highly effective. It is often easier to look at logger readings than attempt to decipher electricity bills (which are often estimated) or meter readings! Typically used in plants with high-consumption equipment, the Energy Logger uses non-invasive flexible coils to monitor the current in each phase of a three phase supply, while voltage information may be obtained via a standard 13A wall socket. Safe and easy to use, the logger records data which is downloaded to a PC to help identify times of peak load and to identify power hungry or inefficient equipment. The unit also records 'Power Factor' (PF) data, a measure of power transmission efficiency: this can be significant because power companies typically charge a higher rate for industrial or commercial customers with a low PF.
Energy monitoring can sometimes lead to very direct savings. For example, in Gemini Data Loggers' own production facility, recorded data revealed that the reflow oven accounted for about 15% of the full electricity bill. Gemini was able to initially reduce this by carefully controlling its use, and ultimately replacing it with a more efficient device. Similarly, analysis of results revealed one of the space heaters was coming on unnecessarily during the night. Monitoring can also lead to more unexpected discoveries. In one case, temperature monitoring by school caretakers revealed that central heating had sometimes been set to come on over the weekend. In another example, an employer, using an Energy Logger, discovered his employees were switching off their equipment and leaving early on a Friday.
'Before and after' monitoring, can help in the evaluation of, for example, replacement LED lighting or Building Environmental Management Systems. Similarly, some energy suppliers such as Ireland's Energia, offer a monitoring service to commercial customers to provide them with information about key areas of their energy usage, helping them to make informed decisions about altering their energy behaviour. Typically loggers are left in place for a minimum of one week and the data used to compare it to the quarter hourly metering data from the incoming meter if possible.
Energy monitoring and careful analysis of results can lead to specific, straightforward and practical ways of cutting energy consumption and meeting environmental management targets. And with costs rising all the time, it is likely to become even more of a priority for high level consumers.
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