You can’t change your driving habits to get better gas mileage until you know what your baseline should be. Becoming a more energy efficient company works the same way. You have to start with measuring energy performance first.

Most companies go about this the same way they measure their business performance––month over month. That can create frustrating results. You’ll almost always conclude that your performance––and therefore your efficiency––has changed, and sometimes by a lot. Here are 4 things to remember as you decide how you’ll track energy usage.

1. Not all months are created equally

“30 days has September. April, June, and November.” You know how the rest of that goes. And let’s not forget about the extra day February has when it’s a leap year.

There’s another big change that makes even looking at the same month a year apart an unfair comparison. The weeks in those months won’t match up. This year, a month might have 5 Mondays. Last year it only had 4.

Well, if that’s the case, is it even possible to compare energy usage using months? It is when you compare the one thing they all share.

2. Compare only the average kilowatt hours between months

Because months have varying days, and those days may be weekdays one year and weekends the next, it’s not appropriate to measure kilowatt-hours. Measure average kilowatt power, instead.

Here’s an example of what this means using a 2-kilowatt electric fan.

  • It uses 1,440 kilowatt hours if left running for a 30-day month.
  • It uses 1,448 kilowatt hours if that month has 31 days instead.
  • However, in both cases, it has an average power of 2 kilowatts.

You’d be disappointed in your energy efficiency if you measured kilowatt-hour usage. The truth is, you neither gain nor lose efficiency if you measure this.

Efficiency is determined when you compare average power.

3. Track only days and times with similar energy usage characteristics

For most businesses, it makes sense to track the amount of energy used on weekdays. Easy to do. Call up your utility account online and chart total average power used each weekday.

That sort-of works, but it’s not accurate. Average power consumed during a weekday in January may differ greatly than a weekday in June. And the average power consumed during nonoperational times may swing widely for the same reason. Which brings us to the 4th tip.

4. Take seasonal variations in energy consumption into consideration

Your building’s HVAC system consumes power to maintain a constant temperature inside, based on what’s happening outside. Often, this is one of the most significant contributing sources to your utility bill.

While it’s inappropriate to look at month-to-month comparisons, you do want to look at this information to create seasonal consumption patterns.

If you see several of themes developing here, we’ve done our job.

  • Compare what’s fair
  • Don’t expect to get quick comparison data
  • It’s an ongoing commitment

Tracking usage to become more energy-efficient is a proven way to reduce the expenses related to utilities. The more you track, the more opportunities you have to gain efficiency––and savings.

There’s another way your business can reduce that amount due monthly on your utility bill. There is no single source for electricity, and your options are growing. Many cost- and environmentally-conscious businesses are choosing to get their power from Minnesota solar gardens.

Save up to 10% annually on office utility bills. Lock in a static rate for the next 25 years. It’s a stable source of clean and renewable energy. Read more about it here.