Energy and demand costs have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. In fact, the cost of energy is one of the most commonly mismanaged expenses, regardless of a company’s size or the industry represented. In healthcare facilities energy management can be more difficult than any other industry, because you not only have to manage expenses, but you’re also dealing with managing human lives. Additionally, managing so many different functions within a single operation requires extra work to manage and measure energy improvements. Managing energy expenses does not have to come at a cost of sacrificing patient safety.
A typical facility can save from 10% to as much as 40% annually on energy costs by implementing a comprehensive energy action plan. And, while each facility will require an organized approach to recognize those savings, facilities first need to understand their power consumption, location of major loads, electric demand usage patterns, and associated costs.
A well organized monitoring and reporting system allows determination of where energy is going, identifies the biggest users, and decides which areas are likely to reap the largest benefits from energy management efforts while managing the impacts on patient safety. The benefits from applying monitoring and reporting principles and guidelines can be seen by comparing theoretical, equipment, system, and actual kWh/unit of production as a function of time.
Because a healthcare facility operates so many different areas and operations, the units of production will vary by department. As an example, the Xray, CT, MRI Test Department may be measured on the number of tests performed per hour, day or week vs. the amount of energy consumed; the Emergency Room (ER) would be measured by the number of patients treated per hour; and the Intensive Care Unit would be measured based on the amount of occupied patient beds per hour. Subsequently, in order to realize measurable improvements in energy conservation, it is essential to measure each of the various areas and apply the proper unit of production accordingly.
Benefits of Energy Monitoring Systems:
- Energy expenditure reductions: Load profile can be generated to track daily, weekly and seasonal variations in energy consumption, while critical loads can be metered and sub-metered to evaluate consumption and reduce energy costs.
- Allocate Costs and Perform Activity-based Costing: Track energy-related costs by department, tenant, process or output. Revenue-accurate metering allows for easy cost comparison with utility bills.
- Manage Energy Purchase Agreements: Use historical load profile data to develop price/risk curves for evaluating energy purchase agreements or for joining an aggregated group to purchase power at reduced costs.
- Perform Energy Conservation and Load Reduction: Shed non-essential loads or bring distributed generation on line to reduce consumption and/or participate in utility-sponsored demand reduction programs. Evaluate the value of energy efficient equipment such as lighting and HVAC changes.
- Reduce Demand Peaks and Related Costs: Avoid demand surcharges to predict kW demand and identify the cause of demand peaks and limit peak occurrences. Generate alarms on events such as excessive load, equipment failure, or when operations are likely to exceed contract terms for energy supply.
- Evaluate Impact of Production Equipment on Energy Costs: Monitor the efficiency of large, energy-consuming equipment to improve performance. Plan for expansion by analyzing load trends and available capacity for new equipment.