ABSTRACT
Today’s utility bill tracking software can deliver excellent results for energy managers who want to gain a comprehensive understanding of utility usage and costs in their facilities. All of the major commercially available utility bill tracking software programs are good at what they do, however, they are distinctly different in functionality and capacity. https://www.fedra.com

Savvy energy managers have discovered – sometimes the hard way – the importance of selecting the appropriate software package to meet their needs. Before reviewing software packages, it is best to understand the needs of your organization and the resources available. Then you can compare each program’s capabilities (such as budgeting and forecasting, temperature correction, rate analysis, report generation, etc.) against your needs.

Making the wrong choice can result in wasted time and hours of frustration, or worse – dissatisfied clients or management.

This paper will help you to identify what tasks you want to accomplish with your utility bill tracking software.

WHY NOT JUST USE SPREADSHEETS?
If you are tracking energy usage and costs for a handful of meters, a spreadsheet may be adequate; however, if you are tracking for a large organization with many facilities, or tracking savings from energy efficiency measures, then commercial energy accounting software may be the best and easiest way to track your utilities.

INTRODUCTION TO UTILITY BILL TRACKING SOFTWARE
All the major utility bill tracking software packages are good at what they do. However, they are all different and have different capabilities. Although you can track your utility bills effectively in any of the software packages, depending upon what your specific needs are, there is likely a program that is more suited to your needs than the others. Choosing the correct software package the first time can save you hours of work, and help you avoid the frustration of discovering too late that it does not produce what you wanted.

NARROWING DOWN THE SCOPE OF OUR ANALYSIS
In order to narrow down the scope of this presentation, we have made two rough classifications, which are detailed below. This paper covers desktop (not web-based) utility bill (not interval data) software programs.

Web vs. Desktop Applications
Using the web to track your energy usage is useful for large organizations. Large companies dispersed around the globe can enter their utility usage, and see reports comparing the usage in Lubbock to the usage in London. Central energy managers can then easily allocate energy costs across the enterprise and locate high usage facilities and concentrate efforts there. However, enterprise web applications are usually relatively expensive and often offer only basic analysis functionality. There are a great number of web applications available, most of which focus on interval (e.g. 15-minute) data.

There are also some internet bill tracking services that are relatively inexpensive. These applications will present your data to you on the web in a number of ways, but at present appear to be limited in analytical capacity and functionality. For example, these web services typically will not weather normalize utility data, which results in faulty year over year comparisons of utility bills. These web services are not addressed in this paper.

There are only a handful of utility bill software programs in the desktop market. Desktop applications usually offer more sophisticated analysis than their web brethren, and usually at a much-reduced price compared to web software. Many desktop packages offer some interface to the internet, such as downloading bill, interval or weather data, and creating html reports.

Interval Data vs. Utility Bills
Although there is considerable value to be found in analysis of interval data, there do not appear to be enough interval data experts to go around. Some organizations have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for interval data enterprise software, only to have it go unused, often due to lack of trained and available staff that can gain meaningful information from it.

Interval data can be used for several purposes, some of which are listed below:

– Determining when equipment is turned on and off
– Discovering and diagnosing equipment and controls problems,
– Load shedding,
– Aggregating energy usage across an enterprise into load profiles which can be used when procuring energy supply contracts,
– Applying rates to the interval data to get a better understanding of the hourly cost of running the facility.

Viewing utility bills in monthly (or billing) increments is a simpler discipline which is more comprehensible to management, more familiar to energy professionals, and more commonly practiced. Plenty of useful information about a facility can be gleaned from utility bills, some of which are listed below:

– Determining whether the facility is saving energy and utility costs
– Identifying the most wasteful facilities
– Identifying controls and equipment problems
– Budgeting and Forecasting
– Understanding where utility costs are going
– Performing rate analysis
– Verifying that the utilities are billing correctly
– Identifying changes in facility usage patterns

By yanam49

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