What Is Utility Tracking?
You can't manage what you don't measure! For this reason, collecting usage and cost data --utility tracking-- is the first step towards getting a hold on water and energy consumption within your portfolio. Keep reading for our definition of tracking, ways to go about it, and reasons why monitoring utility data should be a priority for any property owner or manager.
What is utility tracking?
Utility tracking is the process of recording usage (the physical energy going into a building, such as the amount of electric energy) and cost data for the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of energy and water performance in your portfolio.
How does it work?
There are many different options for tracking utility usage, ranging in granularity (and cost) from real time data generated by installed meters to monthly usage and cost data available on your utility bills. If you're just starting to think about consumption in your portfolio, bill data is a perfect place to start. It's low-cost, and will provide the information you need to start making decisions.
Here are a few approaches to collecting and storing usage data from monthly bills:
- The basic approach: Locate and organize your existing bills and then put a plan in place to ensure you will receive copies of all bills going forward. Next, copy usage and cost information from each bill into a spreadsheet. Update this spreadsheet each month with the new data from your bills.
- The next level: Set up online accounts with your utility providers. Most utilities will make two years of billing history available online and provide the ability to export this data in spreadsheet form, which saves you the time of manually entering your bill data. Update this spreadsheet each month with the new data from your bills. Heads up! In some cases utility providers will require that clients with online access pay their bills online, so be sure to check first and plan accordingly.
- The time-efficient approach: Sign up for an automated utility tracking tool. Services like WegoWise import usage and cost data from online utility accounts, bringing data into a central location to provide reports and graphs to help you gain insight from the information. Tools like this replace the need to maintain a spreadsheet of cost and usage data.
Why should I track utility consumption?
- Detect leaks, spot failing equipment, and catch billing errors. In the energy efficiency world, we call this "Spike Tracking". Spikes are sudden jumps in utility consumption that are very easy to notice when you're continually monitoring your usage, but might go overlooked otherwise. Spikes indicate that something is amiss and catching one means that you can respond to a problem quickly, whether it is a billing error from the utility or something going wrong in your building. Click here to see some examples.
- Create better budgets. Easily accessible usage history means that you'll have a better idea of future costs. This will lead to more accurate budgeting, better utility allowances, a satisfied staff, and happier tenants.
- It's the first step towards utility management. A benchmark will allow you to assess the overall performance of your portfolio and identify your worst performing buildings to target for energy efficiency measures.