Energy management" is a term that has a number of meanings, but we're mainly concerned with the one that relates to saving energy in businesses, public- sector/government organizations, and homes.
An energy management system (EMS) is a system of computer-aided tools used by operators of electric utility grids to monitor, control, and optimize the performance of the generation and/or transmission system.
The computer technology is also referred to as SCADA/EMS or EMS/SCADA. In these respects, the terminology EMS then excludes the monitoring and control functions, but more specifically refers to the collective suite of power network applications and to the generation control and scheduling applications.
Manufacturers of EMS also commonly supply a corresponding dispatcher training simulator (DTS). This related technology makes use of components of SCADA and EMS as a training tool for control centre operators. It is also possible to acquire an independent DTS from a non-EMS source such as EPRI
Energy management systems are also often commonly used by individual commercial entities to monitor, measure, and control their electrical building loads. Energy management systems can be used to centrally control devices like HVAC units and lighting systems across multiple locations, such as retail, grocery and restaurant sites. Energy management systems can also provide metering, submetering, and monitoring functions that allow facility and building managers to gather data and insight that allows them to make more informed decisions about energy activities across their sites.
The energy-saving meaning
When it comes to energy saving, energy management is the process of monitoring, controlling, and conserving energy in a building or organization. Typically this involves the following steps:
1. Metering your energy consumption and collecting the data.
2. Finding opportunities to save energy, and estimating how much energy each opportunity could save. You would typically analyze your meter data to find and quantify routine energy waste, and you might also investigate the energy savings that you could make by replacing equipment (e.g. lighting) or by upgrading your building's insulation.
3. Taking action to target the opportunities to save energy (i.e. tackling the routine waste and replacing or upgrading the inefficient equipment). Typically you'd start with the best opportunities first.
4. Tracking your progress by analyzing your meter data to see how well your energy-saving efforts have worked.
To confuse matters, many people use "energy management" to refer specifically to those energy-saving efforts that focus on making better use of existing buildings and equipment. Strictly speaking, this limits things to the behavioural aspects of energy saving (i.e. encouraging people to use less energy by raising energy awareness), although the use of cheap control equipment such as timer switches is often included in the definition as well.
The above four-step process applies either way - it's entirely up to you whether you consider energy-saving measures that involve buying new equipment or upgrading building fabric.
Why is it important?
Energy management is the key to saving energy in your organization. Much of the importance of energy saving stems from the global need to save energy - this global need affects energy prices, emissions targets, and legislation, all of which lead to several compelling reasons why you should save energy at your organization specifically.
The global need to save energy
If it wasn't for the global need to save energy, the term "energy management" might never have even been coined... Globally we need to save energy in order to:
• Reduce the damage that we're doing to our planet, Earth. As a human race we would probably find things rather difficult without the Earth, so it makes good sense to try to make it last.
• Reduce our dependence on the fossil fuels that are becoming increasingly limited in supply.