For most businesses, one of the biggest monthly expenses is the electric bill. Besides paying for rent and insurance, this is one of the biggest things to account for. If you keep getting big electric bills and you're not sure why, figuring out how much electricity you use is a good place to start. How do you determine how much electricity your business uses?
It's All About the Kilowatt-Hours
The first step to understanding how much electricity your business uses is to clearly define kilowatt-hours. The simple way to understand this is to look at it as a unit of electricity over time. In the case of a kilowatt-hour, it is equal to 1000 watts of electricity being used over the course of an hour. You have to look at electricity use over time.
For example, if you know how many watts something uses at one time, that doesn't really tell you how much total electricity it will use. You also have to know how many hours that device will run. For example, if you're asking "how much electricity does a ceiling fan use?" you'll need to know the wattage, as well as how long you plan to use it. Will you use the fan for eight hours a day? If so, you would then multiply the number of watts the fan uses when it's on times eight. That tells you the number of watt-hours. Then you can calculate the number of kilowatt hours by dividing by 1000.
Look at Electric Bills
Perhaps the simplest way to tell how much electricity your business is using is to look at your electric bills in detail. The electric company should send you a statement each month that shows the total number of kilowatt-hours that you purchased from them. It'll also show you the rate that you paid for each kilowatt-hour as well as the total dollar amount for all of them. Sometimes, it won't show you the rate per kilowatt-hour, but you can do some simple math to calculate that. Just take the total dollar amount of the bill and divide that by the total number of kilowatt-hours.
By looking at your company's electric bills, you can see the total number of kilowatt-hours used over the course of the month. To get the big picture, you can add up several months of those totals and then divide by the number of months. This will tell you what the average usage of your business is.
If you look at the total number of kilowatt-hours that you use per month on average and you're not sure why you're using that much energy, you may need to get more detailed to figure it out. To do this, you may want to measure the energy usage of each circuit in your building for a while to see where all the power is going. If you notice that everything is functioning properly but your bill is still too high maybe it's time to change providers. For example, in the USA some states like Texas allow people to choose their electricity provider. It's a free market, and if you make the right choice you can end up having the lowest electricity rates in Texas.
Measuring the Power
There are a few different ways that you can determine how much power your business is using in detail. One way is to measure the energy going through each circuit in your building. One way to do that is with current transformers or CT's. These are like clamps that attach to each circuit in your electric panel and measure the energy that go through them.
Another option is with a Sense meter. The Sense device measures the frequency that goes in and out of the building and determines what each device is based on that. Instead of putting a CT around each circuit, this meter just requires something attached to the main line coming into the building. It's a faster installation and it makes it pretty simple. Then you just login to the built-in monitoring platform online and you can see what each device in your building uses over time. The downside to using this approach is that it takes time to learn what everything is.
Once you have an idea of how much power you're using, you can make decisions about how to cut down on your power usage. This can help you become more efficient and save money over the long haul.