It’s an exciting time to be both alive and in business. While some technologies are disrupting certain businesses, others are bringing new (sometimes unimaginable) efficiencies and cost savings to them, and others still are creating entirely new industries altogether.
Just consider that the same man who used the world’s most powerful rocket to put an electric sports car into orbit somewhere between Mars and the asteroid belt also recently struck a deal to give 50,000 Australian homes solar power through a decentralized electric grid at “no cost to residents.” Meanwhile, India and China seem to be in an unofficial race to boast the largest solar farm, with China even building a floating one on top of a deserted coal mine. Indeed, it seems like the days of dirty, expensive energy are drastically numbered.
Of course, leaps in energy technology aren’t the only way businesses stand to increase output and reduce costs in the very near future. From business process monitoring to blockchain and security, the Internet of Things for business (IoT) is making possible new efficiencies that would’ve seemed like science fiction only a few years ago.
And you don’t have to be Elon Musk, Alan Turing, or Nikola Tesla for your business to start reaping the energy saving benefits of new technologies. Indeed, while many are already being implemented by businesses across industries, others are even approaching a tipping point in their adoption where they’ll become standard best practice in energy management.
1.Smart Climate Control
If there’s any energy need that all businesses share in common, it’s climate control. Whether it’s air conditioning or heating, every business has the need for some kind of climate control, and often a dedicated HVAC system. And IoT and machine learning are helping businesses save significantly on their energy consumption and costs. From smart thermostats that allow users to program their energy consumption around daily occupancy needs, to smart sensors that monitor fluctuations in real-time occupancy, there are no shortage of energy management tools available to help business save on their energy costs.
Indeed, many larger facilities like hotels, schools, and other businesses with random occupancy patterns even employ smart energy management systems like Verdant EI to maximize their energy savings. Energy management systems like these use sophisticated machine learning algorithms and diverse data sets such as historical thermodynamics, local weather patterns, and peak demand loads to optimize energy consumption in real-time, all year round.
2. Air Source Heat Pumps
Smart Thermostats aren’t the only way that business can save on their heating costs. Advances in HVAC hardware technology also offer businesses new opportunities to save on energy costs.
Specifically, Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) make it possible to transfer heat from outside a building to inside it (or vice versa). The science behind ASHPs involves using the principles of vapor compression-refrigeration to absorb heat from one place and release it to another. But the advantage for businesses is that ASHPs can be used as energy efficient space heaters or coolers, removing the need to overload a central HVAC system to accommodate the specific needs of a smaller or compartmental space.
3. Smart Lighting Technology
Smart energy management systems are not limited only to HVAC systems. Smart Lighting technology also allow businesses to better understand their energy needs, automate their consumption, and adapt to real-time to changes in occupancy.
Indeed, some companies have managed to cut energy costs by 75% and improved productivity by 20% by converting to a smart LED lighting system. Essentially, similar to how the Verdant EI energy management system helps businesses adjust energy consumption based on real-time climate control needs, smart lighting systems also allow business to set preferred lighting times and track activity to improve workflow throughout the facility.
4. Solar Panel Technology
Rising economic superpowers and Australian suburbanites aren’t the only ones benefiting from the rise and proliferation in solar technology. Businesses both large and small are also leveraging increasingly affordable photovoltaic technology to reduce their energy costs.
Indeed, solar power technology offers businesses a two-fold opportunity: to (1) reduce their energy consumption from the grid, and (2) even sell any excess production back into that grid. So not only are businesses able to save on their energy costs, but possibly even subsidize whatever energy consumption they still have to pay for.
5. Automatic Shutdown Sockets
A significant energy cost for many businesses is vampire power draw. Also known as standby power, it “refers to the way electric power is consumed by electronic and electrical appliances while they are switched off (but are designed to draw some power) or in a standby mode.”
This is where Automatic Shutdown Sockets come in. These are simply smart power outlets that use either infrared sensors or timers to cut power to any connected device when the device is not in use or the room is unoccupied. In other words, they allow businesses to save on powering devices whenever they are not in use.
6. Predictive Monitoring
Just as smart energy management systems allow businesses to monitor, track, and optimize their energy consumption, Predictive Maintenance allows them to use sensor data to identify wasteful or hazardous trends and alert maintenance staff before the issue escalates into a much more costly one. For example, as an HVAC systems fluctuates through different levels of performance based around occupancy needs, there will be more or less wear-and-tear on its different physical components. So rather than waiting for a component to break down before being maintenanced or replaced, predictive maintenance allows engineering staff to predict maintenance needs based on system usage, prevent system failures, and reduce the costs of operating a faulty system.
Verdant’s online management platform, for instance, continuously collects data related to HVAC runtimes for each unique room and assigns them efficiency ratings. This rating is an indicator of how quickly a room can be heated or cooled back to the guest’s preferred temperature and provides engineering teams with critical alerts when HVAC equipment is in need of attention.
7. Smart Water Management
Just as water is a necessary condition for life as we know it, every business relies on the stuff just to keep afloat. Indeed, whether it’s part of a manufacturing process or necessary to provide customers with food, drink, and sanitary facilities, dihydrogen monoxide seems to be an unavoidable cost of doing business.
Now, when considering how a single leaky toilet can cost as much as $840/year plus the costs of any additional water damage, it’s easy to see how water can become an unnecessarily expensive business expense. By monitoring water lines with smart, low-cost water meters, however, facilities such as hotels and college campuses can see an ROI on their water consumption in less than 5 years.
Energy Savings: The Final Frontier
As technology advances, it changes many of our tastes, preferences, and needs. It relegates old industries obsolete, creates new ones seemingly overnight, and fundamentally shifts the balance of supply-and-demand across markets.
What doesn’t change is the need for energy consumption. Whether it’s manufacturing physical products, providing customers with a comfortable experience, or keeping employees happy, productive, and motivated, energy consumption is a universal cost of doing business. For businesses willing to embrace the advance of technology, however, there are no shortage of opportunities to reduce their energy costs.
The exact mix of energy saving technology that’s right for any given business will depend largely on industry, location, and even customer preferences. But the one thing that is universal is that the businesses that do leverage technology to save on their energy costs will be ultimately more profitable, and better able to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape.