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3 Hidden Costs of Manual Energy Data Collection

May 29, 2019

If you’re still collecting energy data manually, you’re not alone. Even with technology and cloud-based applications transforming how businesses operate, many companies use manual data to make broad and expansive energy decisions. On the surface, manual data collection appears as a cost-effective approach compared to investing in an energy management system. But a recent Smart Energy Decisions article explored how energy and facilities leaders may find long time hidden costs and consequences of manual data.

Before you begin compiling this month’s energy data into your spreadsheet, consider these 3 hidden costs drivers:

  1. Error-prone data: Considering the average utility bill may have 120 data points, there is plenty of room for error. Not to mention, from start to finish, it takes 7 distinct steps to manually process energy data. In between each step is a time and labor-intensive process prone to human error. See the process below:
  • Send. Paper bills sent through the mail can take 3-5 days to arrive
  • Receive. Personnel is required to receive bills at company mail centers.
  • Prepare. Bills then need to be manually sorted and organized
  • Scan and Extract. Bills are scanned to create a digital copy and extract relevant data points
  • Email. Bill images are sent to various departments and job roles
  • Enter. Data then needs to be manually copied into a spreadsheet or application
  1. Late insight: It takes time to enter utility data, and time is money. During the time you spend collecting data from paper or PDF bills and entering them into a spreadsheet, you’re missing opportunities to drive change in your buildings and reduce costs. The biggest problem? Since most utility bills only give you a monthly summary of your usage, anomalies or spikes in consumption can go undetected for months, driving up your energy bill without you knowing.
  2. Misapplied resources: If you’re dedicating a team to collect energy data, you’re already making a sizable (and costly) investment in data collection. But if you’re a team of one or pulled in different directions with competing priorities (as many facilities and energy leaders are), you may not have time to manually collect and process data. Every minute you spend filling in spreadsheets or normalizing bill data is time away from higher-level challenges and building optimization projects to drive more revenue for your organization.

Switching from manual data collection to automated data collection may seem overwhelming at the onset—but it doesn’t have to be. With insight on what you stand to gain and a solid plan in place, you can start to reap the tremendous benefits of automation.

Modern Energy Managers are taking advantage of automated energy data collection improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and empower teams to make data-driven decisions, faster. Building Insights energy management system can easily automate utility bill data centralization through a simple integration with utility providers. To understand how you might benefit, try Building Insights EMIS Energy Savings Calculator, and prepare for the next step on your digital transformation.