January 1996 Volume 2 Issue 1
A Couple of Computer Tools that Make it Easier
Business people often have a love/hate relationship with ledgers and journals and financial accounting systems. There is work and cost associated with keeping track of each item of expense and income — but there is also great value in being able to monitor cash flow and the bottom line.
Accounting for a facility’s energy use also has certain costs and benefits. The major cost is the time it takes to record energy-use data from electricity bills and fuel delivery slips. The benefits include
· verifying and quantifying the results of energy reduction efforts,
· detection of fuel and electricity billing errors, and
· early detection of plant problems that have caused energy use to increase.
In much the same way that computer programs have reduced the work involved in dollar accounting, recently-developed programs have made energy accounting easier. Two of these programs are available free on request from the Energy and Minerals Section at the phone number below. They are also available in connection with the Power Wise Opportunities electrical workshops and the Thermal Workshops sponsored by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
The size of a firm’s electricity bill depends on
· electrical demand (how fast the electricity is being used, the amount of power drawn by the connected load — the kW),
· electrical consumption, (the total amount of electrical energy used — the kWh), and the
· rate classification (that sometimes complicated set of rules which governs the dollar amount charged for the demand and consumption).
To reduce a facility's electrical expense there are three possible routes: reduce demand, reduce consumption, or switch to a different rate.
The first two routes require a comprehensive look into the way the facility uses electricity. An electrical energy audit is required, and personnel from the Energy and Minerals Section may have already visited your firm and conducted such a study. If so, perhaps you then took steps intended to reduce energy demand and consumption. Did these measures accomplish what you had hoped? Unless you have “before” and “after” energy records, and continue to keep track of energy use on an ongoing basis, you can't know for sure. Because energy costs change, production levels change, and temperatures change from season to season and year to year, keeping track of the dollars spent for energy is not enough. You need to keep track of kW, kWh, and litres of fuel too.
Regarding electrical rate classification, many businesses qualify for more than one rate. Is your business on the most favorable rate for which it qualifies — the rate that minimizes the amount you pay for electricity?
The Power Wise Calculator software can help with two parts of this puzzle. It can help with the
ongoing monitoring of your facility’s electricity use. And it allows you to calculate what your yearly energy cost would be if you were billed under various other electrical rates.
It works like this. You install the software on your MS-DOS computer. You then dig out your past electricity bills. From the information on the bills, you enter information about your electrical rate classification on one screen, and information about your billed demand and consumption for 12, 24, or more consecutive past months on other screens.
· If you have made changes to reduce electrical use, you compare usage before and after the changes.
· If you want to explore the question of optimum rate, begin by getting rate descriptions and qualification rules from your electric utility. Then, using the same one-year set of demand and consumption data for each trial, enter new rate information on the “Electrical Rate Information” screen. Do this for each rate classification for which your business qualifies, and print out an Electricity Bill Analysis report for each. Which rate minimizes the annual outlay for electricity?
In addition to this “energy accounting” use of the software, Power Wise Calculator also does three kinds of “energy situation” analysis. The software will
1. analyze refrigeration compressor energy savings resulting from changing a refrigeration system’s operating conditions,
2. calculate savings resulting from changing an air compressor’s operating conditions, and
3. analyze a motor replacement situation. Do you rewind the burned out motor? Buy an exact replacement? Or buy an energy-efficient replacement?
In addition to consuming electricity, most businesses also burn one or more fuels to generate space and/or process heat. Here, too, keeping track of energy use over time makes sense, and here, too, there is a computer program that can help. This Windows® program is called THEOS, short for Thermal Energy Opportunity Software.
THEOS allows fuel-delivery information to be entered for up to five fuel types, and generates yearly summary reports for each fuel used. The program also allows weather and production data to be entered, enabling weather-related and production-related energy use to be extracted from total energy use.
Like the electrical program, THEOS, too, has some “situation analysis” features:
1. An “Energy Cost” calculation function that takes fuel cost and converts it into thermal energy cost, both at boiler input and boiler output.
2. A “Reduction” calculation function that compares existing and proposed thermal energy scenarios.
3. A “Recovery” function that allows heat recovery calculations.
4. A handy “Conversion” function that allows Imperial energy units to be converted to Metric units and vice versa.
For more information about these software programs, or about having your facility undergo an electrical or thermal energy audit, contact Mike Proud or Ron Estabrooks of the Energy and Minerals Section at 368-5010 (toll free).