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Five Ways to Increase Utility Bill Efficiency and Time Savings with Building Insights

December 5, 2019

If you work with utility bills manually, then you know the time- and labor-intensive process involved in managing and tracking costs and usage. Often, energy teams managing utility bills are forced to prioritize manual data entry instead of investing in energy conservation measures and projects. To make analysis of bill costs easier, Building Insights has powerful tools to simplify the creation of monthly and yearly cost reports. When used together, these tools give you a time-saving advantage and dramatically increase the accuracy of your reports.

Allocate costs to appropriate calendar months

Calendarization is a method for allocating bill cost and consumption data to appropriate calendar months for analysis and reporting.

Whether you’re issuing charges to tenants or budgeting for future expenses, calendarization helps you more accurately represent month-to-month costs, regardless of the various start and end dates found on your bills.

For instance, in Building Insights you can allocate data on a month-by-month basis by prorating daily cost and consumption over each day of the bill period. Or, you can allocate data to the month in which the statement invoice had been issued.

Normalize for weather and occupancy differences

Normalization is a method for estimating consumption under typical conditions, with the effects of weather and occupancy removed.

If you’re comparing buildings across different geographic locations, each having different outdoor temperature conditions, then these conditions may interfere with your ability to determine why some buildings are spending more than others.

Extreme weather events may leave you scratching your head when looking at a year-over-year comparison, for example. Or, a period of uncharacteristically high vacancy, such as during the holidays, may lead you to make incorrect judgments about spending allocations in the forthcoming year’s budget.

Predict future spend or expected savings

Baselines are statistical models that help you predict consumption based on historic usage and other variables, like weather and occupancy.

If you want to benchmark your buildings against “normal” use, or estimate bill cost savings from an energy efficiency project, then baselines can help you create an accurate model that gives you insight into your buildings’ future estimated spend.

Make adjustments based on data completeness

Because utility bill data may arrive with a one- or two-month lag, Building Insights can make automatic adjustments to the period and the data displayed in your cost reports.

Callout adjustments are features in Building Insights that allow you to control how totals, averages, and percent difference values are calculated, while graph adjustments control how graphs are displayed. These two adjustment methods can be controlled independently of each other, giving you ultimate flexibility.

Let’s say your utility bill data hasn’t arrived for the last month. Worse yet, there’s a missing bill from a few months ago. Your goal is to accurately represent bill costs this year compared to the previous year, in spite of the incomplete bill record. You can use both adjustments methods to deal with the lagging and missing bills, and still have a meaningful year-over-year comparison.

Left: June and July lack complete data during this period (highlighted). Right: June and July are removed from the graph, until lagging or missing bills are available.
Left: June and July lack complete data during this period (highlighted). Right: June and July are removed from the graph, until lagging or missing bills are available.

Use multiple currencies across different geographies

Currency conversions enables localization of bill costs. Building Insights uses an industry-standard currency conversion API that stores daily currency conversion rates for every available currency, as well as monthly average rates.

If your organization is multinational, then chances are you have bills issued to you in different currencies. When you analyze or report on bill data in Building Insights, you can express these bill costs in a uniform currency across building locations.

Some organizations have custom currency rates, which are defined each month. If that’s your organization, then you can easily override the currency conversion API values with your own monthly average rates.

To learn more about how you can manage your organization’s utility bills with Building Insights, reach out to us for a demo.