Why aM & T?

How do you justify spending money on extra meters and automatic reading when it doesn't save money or energy directly. One anecdote that might help

As I recently went to ESTA aM&T Conference at the RICOH Stadium I thought I’d muse on that topic That’s “automatic metering and targeting” – which means a little bit more than a smart meter.

Fundamentally, the readings of multiple meters are collected at a central point regularly (often half-hourly) and used to assess wastage. Now nothing in that intrinsically saves energy at all (in fact it actually consumes some energy) – so why are they included in lists of energy saving equipment and even get Enhanced Capital Allowances?

Well, to quote Lord Kelvin: “You cannot control that which you cannot measure” and the information these systems can give an energy manager about usage at times and locations where he can’t be can be invaluable.

He can see trends of usage, excess hours of usage, competing plant (how often is Air Conditioning and heating in operation and fighting to achieve different temperature levels?) and spikes which can be informative. He can also collect his own total consumptions (without having to rely on fallible meter readers (I must post an item on “Why Meter readers can’t read Meters) and spot when meters have failed.

One interesting story relates to remote metering I had when with the Army on transformers at a relatively distant airfield. We looked through the readings one Friday and noticed that the readings for one hanger had leapt on Monday afternoon and remained at that higher level day and night since. It wasn’t a lot (not enough to trigger any alarms) but it was noticeable. So we rang them and asked “is something going on in Hanger 2?” When they answered in the negative we sent them along to investigate.

A while later (actually long enough for us to notice that the consumption in the hanger had fallen to BELOW the original level), we got a call back asking us to quantify the value of the extra consumption. They’d found that someone had been into the hanger on Monday, turned the lights on and failed to turn them off when they left. They’d identified the offender and had him before the CO the next morning on a charge of wasting Army resources. Why did the consumption fall below the original figure?

When they were turning off everything in the hanger, they actually found something that was originally on and turned that off as well. The final outcome was that they gained a belief in the ability of my team to see waste from a distance and went round the other hangers turning off unnecessary equipment and more allies joined the War on Waste.

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