What is submetering and How can Indian companies benefit from the concept?

We know that the term submetering is a new word in the vocabulary of Indian facility management companies. That’s why we thought we will put up a detailed blog post about it. This blog post is a sincere attempt in making the Indian audience understand the concept of submetering and how actually Indian companies can save big bucks and in turn boost their productivity with imbibing this great concept.

What is submetering?

Submetering is a method building operators use to benchmark energy performance of specific equipment, building systems, tenant spaces, and other end uses. Building operators can use submetering to gain insight into how different segments of the building are performing. Submeters can provide the following energy information:

Submetering is a concept or method used by Integrated Facility Management companies to benchmark the energy performance of a specific equipment, building systems, tenant spaces, and other end uses that might consume energy in an industrial setting. Although the concept is currently exclusive to the commercial application but can easily be extended to residential settings if need be. Facility managers can use this concept to gain insights into how different sections of the building are performing in terms of energy and power consumption. Once armed with this information they can then proceed to take measures that would help achieve a more efficient energy consumption pattern.

Submeters can provide the following energy information:

  • Usage analysis and peak demand identification
  • Time-of-use metering of electricity, gas, water, steam, chilled water, and other utilities
  • Cost allocation for tenant billing if the commercial space is shared.
  • Load comparisons
  • Threshold alarming and notification
  • Multi-site load aggregation and real-time historical monitoring of energy consumption and performance patterns
Strategies in submetering

With the growth in technology that’s available for submetering virtually any type of industrial appliance can now be sub-metered. However, one thing we would like to mention here is that before installing a submeter one should do a cost-benefit analysis. The reason is that although all the technology that goes into submetering is readily available in the country, however, they are not manufactured here. That means all the tools and instruments are imported and hence expensive. So before deciding just know how deep your pockets are and what benefits in terms of power saving and efficiency you are going to get.

Common building systems that can be submetered include:

  • Chilled water production and distribution
  • Hot water or steam production and distribution
  • Air handling and distribution systems

Common equipment that can be submetered includes:

  • Chillers
  • Cooling towers (electrical and water consumption)
  • Air handling units (fan coils, heat pumps, VAVs, etc.)
  • Boilers
  • Unit heaters

Submetering can also be done in the occupant space. End-user categories that can be measured through submetering include:

  • Lighting Loads
  • Data centers
  • Retail areas (if applicable)
  • Plug Loads

Submetering provides the facility managers with precious data that they can use to improve building operations and maintenance scheduling, strategic planning, and occupant comfort. There might be many reasons to go for submetering but the end result or the goal is always the same and that is to increase efficiencies and performance of the building. Submetering can also provide many qualitative benefits like increased occupant productivity and comfort levels, as well as improved decision making regarding building operations and performance. Some building owners may choose to invest in submeters to fulfill organizational strategic goals focused on energy conservation.

Submetering can isolate use by tenants in a multidepartment commercial setting or by retail space. Often, especially in older buildings, it is not feasible to allocate utility usage by departments. Securing this type of data can enable facility managers to more accurately understand usage by tenant space and provide a degree of fairness to of information for the top level management. Additional benefits include identifying and correcting sources of resource waste, which can lead to improved comfort and performance, as well as longer equipment life.

In addition, going for submetering can provide the following features to a building :

Equipment on/off time
One way to save energy is by ensuring that equipment in a commercial setting work as per the schedule. Often it is noted that machines and other appliances are left at an idle mode after the work is done. We all know that heavy industrial machines do consume power even when in idle mode. Submetering can help detect such patterns and provide a remedy to them.

Peak Demand
Peak demand is basically a season where the power demand suddenly spikes. In India, this is often observed during festive seasons. Although it is rare that electricity companies in India charge for peak demand but still submetering can help manage peak demand scenarios and minimize power wastage hence providing the power where it is required.

Irregular Patterns
Submetering can also help in detecting irregular patterns in energy consumption. This can help a facility manager to pinpoint the area which needs repair or maintenance. Hence helping cut down the excess power bills.

In India, the concept of submetering can really help companies save big money. As such the rate of commercial power in our country is pretty high. A rupee saved is a rupee earned here.

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