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Using Power Monitoring to Combat Energy Price Increases

Using Power Monitoring to Combat Energy Price Increases

Feeding power into your operations has rarely felt more financially painful. The price of producing and delivering electricity skyrocketed in 2022, continuing a challenging trend from the past few years. Few markets have been safe from the rise in wholesale energy costs:

  • European prices hit an astronomical €400-€500 per mWh in July 2022, before retreating to a still-high €250-€300 per mWh at the end of 2022.
  • Asian gas prices increased sevenfold in 2021 after Russian corporation Gazprom cut off its Central European storage supply. Combined with Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, this further tightened the natural gas market.
  • Australian wholesale prices tripled in June 2022, driven by increased natural gas demand and reduced coal efficiency.
  • South American countries experienced periodic energy price hikes between 2019 and 2021. Panama saw prices increase 115%, Ecuador 100%, Mexico 83%, and Brazil 77%.
  • African countries have seen sporadic price hikes, even with strict government-controlled economics. South Africa allowed its national energy provider Eskom to increase energy prices by nearly 18% in January 2023.

While several industries are driving increased energy demand, the telecommunications industry has seen drastic increases in consumption. Wireless cell phone carriers, racing each other to install 5G towers and expand their networks, have placed greater strain on local power supplies. 5G towers and base stations consume up to twice as much power as older 4G towers, meaning that those carriers are paying twice as much to power their networks.

There are signs of an eventual reduction in wholesale energy costs in 2023, but you can’t wait for the market to correct itself. It’s never been more important to monitor power usage and know exactly how much electricity you’re expending—and where you can trim costs.

Common Strategies to Conserve Power

Every watt hour should serve a useful purpose. If you’re delivering too much power for your business needs, you’re spending money on wasted resources. The first step in resolving this challenge is to find out where you’re expending excess power. Businesses typically use a variety of power monitoring techniques to identify energy use and reduce overconsumption.

  1. One strategy involves partnering with Energy Service Companies (ESCO) to identify, track, and mitigate energy use. ESCOs typically perform energy usage audits, then develop, design, and implement reduction projects. 

    ESCO projects combine strategic planning with monitoring equipment to track energy use over time, compare usage from one facility to another, and establish energy benchmarks over time. These benchmarks will allow you to track energy consumption from HVAC systems and other high-powered equipment, document seasonal energy changes, and identify problem areas.

  2. If you have several tenants renting space (for people or data centers) in a commercial building, you could apply submetering systems to better track usage in each unit or data center cabinet. Colocenter services providers rent computing power to individual units, and when combined with submetering devices, they can help you track actual usage in each unit.

    Submetering isn’t just about isolating individual power usage. You can also compare usage across units, identify power-hungry equipment, and detect early signs of equipment failure.

The Decision-Making Power of Monitoring

Energy prices are constantly in flux. Today’s price hikes might be mitigated by tomorrow’s price dips. But each kWh of wasted energy still impacts your budget, even if the price drops. It’s essential to know exactly how much power you’re using, where you’re using it, and why.

Wireless power monitoring devices give you the ability to control power usage and limit cost overruns. Specifically, they tackle excess power consumption by analyzing unique circuit and environmental factors:

  • Wireless branch circuit monitors offer a dedicated, granular view of power consumption over a single circuit or multiple circuits.
  • Single submeters can monitor high-capacity power consumption from energy-rich HVACs, generators, and subpanels.
  • Environmental monitors can track temperature changes, airflow pressure, and other external factors that influence power load.
  • Smart power cables offer monitoring and wireless networking in a single cord, allowing you to supplement an existing PDU rather than replacing the entire unit.

Knowledge is the best tool to combat rising energy prices. If you know how much power is being used in your facilities, you can reduce wasted energy and runaway costs. If you’re still wondering where all that excess energy is going, check out our Guide to Data Center Monitoring for some best-practice monitoring tips. If you’re ready to take control of your energy consumption, reach out to our team and we’d be happy to help you with a monitoring assessment! 

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