Facility Dude

What are utilities costing you?

By Kate Donnelly
Apr 10, 2015

Energy Management

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Here are a few of the largest expenses many facility managers face, as well as ways you can help to manage these costs.

Energy

In most cases, the vast majority of operational funds spent by a facility go to energy. The larger a building, the more it costs to keep it lit, heated or cooled. In fact, according to ENERGY STAR, the amount that the nearly 6 million facilities spend on energy in the U.S. every year is $400 billion, meaning that the mean energy cost per facility is around $66,000 annually.

Granted, there are periods throughout the year that tend to be more cost-intensive from an energy perspective - winter can be more expensive due to heating costs, for example. But there are ways to keep energy costs down year-round. This starts with a simple procedure - monitoring. Lighting rooms that aren't being used or keeping power on during periods when the building is unoccupied can be tantamount to wasting money on energy costs. Fortunately, utility tracking software can help track when power is used, where and for how long. You may even wish to go one step further and update your building's lighting solution to be set to an automated timer, which may be ideal for larger facilities.

Of course, there are more involved ways to reduce power consumption as well. You may find that your facility is due for a retrofit - investing in newer and more efficient lighting can pay big dividends down the road in energy costs. Similarly, don't overlook the importance of windows and doors to your energy usage. Ensure your windows are ENERGY STAR-approved, and that there are no gaps or cracks in the frame. Any such fissures should be caulked over to boost your building's energy efficiency.

Water

Similar to energy use, water usage can have a significant impact on overall operations costs. Like power, water isn't a fixed cost. This means it can be difficult to budget effectively, but once again observation and record-keeping can be your friend here.

In addition to monitoring how the occupants of your building use water on a daily basis, you should also inspect your equipment to determine if there are any pieces of infrastructure that are contributing to inefficiency. For example, you may be spending extra money on water if there's a leak in your boiler.

Facility managers can use a tool like UtilityTrac to help isolate where water usage is at its highest. Not only can this give you a clearer idea of what normal usage looks like, and thus help you set expectations, it can also point out any areas that need maintenance.

The importance of benchmarking

A key step in refining a budget's efficiency is proper benchmarking. Knowing not only what standard usage for your facility is, but what industry standards are for a building of similar size and operation can create consistency. It can also be a way to identify areas that you can improve.

Information is the most significant tool facility managers have in their toolbox. The ability to update information in real time, even via a mobile device, and then to compare your facility's data against industry standards, is the key benefit that technology brings to the facility management field.

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