Making energy data useful through visualisation
Have you ever heard of the saying “You can’t change what you can’t measure”? Although every living being on this planet consumes and expels energy, figuring out how much energy you are consuming or expelling is something that can be quite difficult to measure and visualise. Not being able to properly present data in a simple and easy to understand manner can hold your business back in understanding the energy performance of your site.
Visual communication is a must-have skill for all energy managers and Northmore Gordon can help you visualise your data so that you can more easily interpret energy statistics. With advancements in how data is measured, stored and accessed, today’s energy managers have the ability to monitor energy consumption literally at the touch of their fingertips. Through the introduction of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and mobile technology, your energy data can be visualised through something as innocuous as your mobile phone.
But how can we represent this data so it can be simple to understand and useful to you and your decision-makers?
Here are some simple ways you can make visualising energy data useful to the decision-making process and reduce the energy consumption of your site.
What chart do I use for energy data visualisation?
The type of chart you use to visualise your energy consumption is important and depends on both who you are communicating to and the type of data that you have. Some useful charts include:
Bar charts are perfect for comparing energy consumption and are one of the most common ways to visualise data. Monthly energy consumption over two or three years can be plotted on a bar chart to compare your energy consumption between the months of the calendar year, or to the previous months in other years.
Be sure not to include too many categories to compare and that the data that you are using is not continuous.
Scatter plots are useful when there are many different data points and you want to point out similarities in the data set. They can also be used to highlight outliers in the data set and give you an understanding of the data’s distribution. One way to use scatter plots is to plot your electricity consumption against your production to determine if there is a relationship between these two factors of your business. A trendline can also be created to obtain an equation which defines the relationship between energy usage and your production. This can then be used to create energy performance indicators (EnPIs) for your business.
Pie charts will be useful in comparing the energy consumption of different departments of your business, where the sum of each part will equal to a whole. They are easy to read and with a quick scan of the chart, you can understand which area of your site uses the most energy and which area uses the least.
It is also good practice to ensure you include percentage labels, as the portions of the chart might not be immediately obvious to some stakeholders.
Indicators are great to use if your business has set targets in your energy usage, as they can then be used to track your current energy usage. They are easy to read and understand from a simple glance and can be expressed either as a gauge or ticker to create greater visual impact.
You can also compare your performance to the previous time period to show whether your usage has gone up or down.
The charts described above are just a number of ways that you could visualise your site’s energy usage. The choice of what chart to use depends on what type of data you have and who you will be presenting these charts to.
At the end of the day, visualising how much energy you are using is the first and most crucial step in changing how much energy you are using. After you get an idea of what your energy usage is, the next steps to improving energy efficiency at your workplace would then be to:
- Plug any gaps in your metering,
- Set energy targets and goals
- Find opportunities around your site to improve energy efficiency.
- Implement these opportunities
- Track energy savings of these opportunities through measurement and verification (M&V)
Northmore Gordon can help you with these actions as well as help you assess the data you have and visualise it. This way, it is not only easy to understand but will assist you in making decisions to improve the energy consumption of your business.