In addition to switching to renewable energy sources, there are other ways your non profit, charity, community organisation or social enterprise can reduce carbon emissions and energy costs. Energy monitoring can help organisations and households alike to boost energy efficiency, and tackle the climate emergency.
CORENA works with a wide range of non profits, providing interest-free loans to fund initiatives that reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint. To date we have mostly funded solar panels but we can also support organisations to reduce their energy use in other ways such as smart energy monitoring technologies. Here is some practical information about energy monitoring and how you could potentially benefit from this carbon emissions-reducing and cost-saving technology.
What Is Energy Monitoring & How Can It Help My Non Profit Organisation?
Energy monitoring can take many forms but basically consists of a system that measures your energy use at regular intervals throughout the day. This might be every half an hour, 15 minutes or even every second. This gives you a daily consumption profile which is useful for many things.
- It shows you if you are unintentionally leaving things on overnight and picks up unusual energy patterns that could mean something is not working correctly.
- The data can be presented daily, weekly, monthly or annually so it’s really useful for reporting energy use, carbon emissions and cost savings.
- You can easily see energy use before and after an energy efficiency action so you know if it is really working or not and how much it has saved.
- It helps you choose the best time of use energy tariff by showing you when you are using your power.
- It provides detailed information which would allow an energy auditor to provide more accurate recommendations on energy improvements.
Energy Monitoring & Solar Panels
If you don’t have solar panels – energy monitoring helps with accurately sizing your solar panels so they match your energy consumption during the day.
If you already have solar panels – Most people know they need to use their appliances during the day if they have solar panels but how do you know if you are using more than your solar panels are producing? Energy monitoring shows you how much solar power you have compared to how much you are consuming. If you have excess solar power, this allows you to shift when you use appliances to match your solar production.
Energy Usage Data
Depending on the type of meter you have installed at your building you may already have access to some great data for free via your energy retailer account portal. Ask your retailer how to access it if you can’t find it in your online account. If not, you might start with getting one energy monitor on your main electricity meter and spending some time learning how to use this data. You could also pay to have energy consumption monitoring added to your solar production portal. Both of these options are likely to cost between $300-$1,000 but these costs are usually easily paid back by the changes you make reducing your energy use. This level of data should be sufficient for most smaller organisations like community centres and sporting clubs.
If you manage a large building you can start with one monitor on the main meter but may find just monitoring the main meter doesn’t give you enough details. You might see a spike in energy consumption for some reason but without knowing what each part of your building is using it is very difficult to track down. The next step is often to put energy monitors on individual switchboards or submeters. This is more useful for large office buildings with multiple floors, retirement villages, schools etc
Once you understand your sub-meter data you may find even that isn’t enough. The ultimate in energy monitoring is Smart monitoring. This type of monitoring consists of sensor devices that oversee all parts and functions of an organisation sometimes right down to individual appliances. Sensors automatically collect and transmit data to an online data portal. Data is continuously monitored and if anything of concern is detected then alerts are sent. This type of monitoring can not only monitor energy use but also a huge range of other measures such as water use, air quality, temperature, occupant usage and more.
Energy Monitoring Funding For Non Profits, Community Organisations, Charities & Social Enterprises
Knowing where to start with energy monitoring can be a bit confusing. CORENA can help talk you through how to access your energy use data and how to interpret it. We can also help with the process and costs for installing energy monitors and sub meters.
If you need additional funding for a monitoring system CORENA can assist with zero interest loans for community organisations looking to reduce their emissions and green their energy consumption. We are funded by donations from local community members across Australia. Donations help us fund:
- Solar Panels
- Installing energy efficiency measures such as switching to efficient alternatives or installing insulation
- Replacement of fossil gas appliances with electric alternatives
- Electric vehicles
- A combination of the above