Swiss Army Knife, wrong tool for some jobs!

Wenger Swiss Army Knife

One-Size fits all ! - I am sure you have heard it even when it's quite ridiculous and misplaced. Some jobs simply need a custom solution. 

Allow me to illustrate...

The most obvious argument is the Swiss Army Knife. (Disclosure: I am a fan) - If you are travelling light a universal tool may be a good compromise. 

But let's not forget that word - compromise. Compromise means this toolset is not optimal for solving all problems, all of the time. 

Deutsche Kälte- und Klimatagung 2013 Hannover

The German Chilling and Air-Conditioning Association have their annual conference this year in Hannover.

Deutscher Kälte- und Klimatechnischer Verein e.V. - DKV

If you happen to be going look out for Andreas Mueller Andreas Mueller
and Holger Koenig Holger Koenig and be sure to say Hi.

They will be presenting on:

"WEB-basierende Echtzeit-Analyse von Energieverbrauchsdaten für 
automatisierte Vorhersagen beim Betrieb von Anlagen"

In English that would be:

 "web-based real-time analysis of energy consumption data for automated prognosis of the operation of facilities".

In short, they will explain how pattern recognition techniques inspired based on the from the medical diagnostic field are being applied in a facility management context.

The key finding is perhaps that real value can be added by distinguishing complex from routine problems and ensuring action is delegated appropriately. So while it does not pay to have energy experts visit all of say 100 sites, there are some that are worth visiting. 

This decision can be made automatically and fast, saving time and energy (and reducing pointless travel costs). 

Equally there are going to be problems that can be fixed by relatively unskilled staff - these can be communicated simply and acted upon fast.   

When energy managers get tied up "fire-fighting" which can involve vast volumes of repetitive work, they are often more effective if they can be supported with suitable diagnostics and work-flow or delegation technologies, so they free their focus for the real problems where long standing or complex problems need to be addressed.  

If this sound like you be sure to get in touch. (and do write in German if that's easier)

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Are you S.L.I.P.P.E.R.Y enough ?

Are you using SLIPPERY techniques effectively?

Energy Managers are always trying to change behaviour. In the world of business, methods to make new behaviours easy to adopt can be tested against the acronym S.L.I.P.P.E.R.Y.

I believe these same techniques may also help you in trying to promote energy behaviour change.

So I will first introduce the idea in a rapid overview and then explain how you can use this to structure your approaches to encourage energy behaviour change in your work places.

Finally, (if you make it that far, it is a longish post) I will conclude with a simple case study to illustrate how kWIQly (we hope) offer very SLIPPERY support for our clients

What is a SLIPPERY technique?

Low to no initial cost
Installs easily
Proves value fast
Plays well with others
Easy to use
Return on Investment is obvious
Your customers can’t live without it

Michael Skok who works for North Bridge runs workshops at Harvard Business School Startup Secrets and his brother David from Matrix Partners co-operate to explain this in the business context more thoroughly here

Note from kWIQly - David was helpful when we were beginning to define our business process and we really appreciate the lectures Michael has put together)

However, although these are clearly intended in terms of delivering a product or service I think it is fairly obviously relevant when you are trying to "sell" (or install?) a new idea or behaviour.

What does this mean to the energy manager ?

As you will see, with the early issues the energy manager has a headstart, but remember the story of the hare and tortoise. You need to tick all the slippery boxes, or your efforts will be less effective.


Do watch this - seventeen minutes well spent !

So here, the energy manager starts with a natural advantage when dealing with non-technical people. People simply "get", energy savings.

Obviously, I am not talking about more technical aspects of building controls here, rather the straightforward ideas of switching things off diligently, setting time-clocks and thermostats appropriately, closing windows and so on.

They get it because they are brought up to at least understand "waste not want not", "save the pennies and the pounds save themselves" and so on.

However, you need to bring this into personal context. If you run a chain of pubs in the UK at the moment for example, energy costs may be the difference between profit and loss, (and more personally) having a job or not ! - there is also the environmental context to consider.

Low to no Initial cost

Again an easy win, in theory. Yes, it requires a small effort (a tiny one), but also an attentiveness just as they are rushing out after work, and during the working day.

Technology and devices, means people are more and more stuck in their seats. So maybe you can "sell" against the friction of doing nothing, by emphasizing that by getting up and switching a light off, or walking up the stairs to save a lift (elevator) from shuttling down to serve them is a triple win. Exercise, a quick break from work, and good for the planet. It's also great for peer approval - being energy conscious is cool.

Installs easily

We come equipped at birth - by the time you can reach a light switch you can turn it off. It may be worth mentioning to staff they can teach this at home with their kids too ! Maybe making a game of it for little rewards (this also re-enforces motivation - see below)

Proves value quickly

See how I avoided the pun there? (kWIQly - Powerful Intelligence fast - sorry for spoon-feeding)

The most simple measures like flipping a light switch make sense instantly - infinite ROI and zero payback

But many non-technical types do not understand that lowering a thermostat overnight can have a benefit (they get all tied up "with how the weather effects saving potential"), and worse many people do not know that fluorescents no payback in microseconds if you switch them off.

Plays well with others

This is not really an issue - you dont leave your colleagues in the dark, and they do not override the boiler-house control systems (hopefully - you can manage the tougher stuff :)

Easy to Use

Just like the "installs easily", your staff are in control of their own bodies, but you also need to be thinking about motivators (energy dashboards - are they simple to the average member of staff), leader-boards, are they fair, transparent, simple.

ROI Obvious

Here management buy-in can make a huge difference. Environmental rewards are soon overlooked. So why not run a series of competitions (best perfromance improvement wins night out on the town - or whatever floats their boats) HA - when I typed that google autocorrect fixed it to "water floats their boats" - well I guess so ! - perhaps a river cruise is the answer!

Your customers can’t live without it

Get your senior management or financial team to show some simple graphics that compare energy costs to the P&L, (their buy-in is crucial and you will be doing yourself a favour too ! and then perhaps conclude with the video I included above (or something similar) that explains how serious global warming is.


Being Slippery is not necessarily hard - but it is something you can plan for - and have more effect. So below and very concisely I will explain how this applies to kWIQly


Heres what we can do with the sea of energy data you may be getting from smart meters, but not have the time to use (or even glance through)


We extract data from your automatic meter reading (AMR or smart meter) sources, add relevant weather data and interpret problems using pattern recognition.

Google is complex behind the scenes too, but it succeeds because you put a word in and it searches for you. Simple!

What we offer is a bit like that. We know the word "waste" - so we can just get on with the work behind the scenes. We send you notifications of as many top wasting sites as you want to see at a frequency you choose. If we don't add value - you don't pay (this is rather different from the metering companies who have to install expensive infrastructure etc.)

Low to no initial cost

No initial cost, no lock-in, no reason not to try.

Installs easily

There is no install. If your utility or some other service can show you graphs of data, we can pull out the data for you (in the cloud) and get on with the work - We do need a authority and contact details from you - as a one off set up, and things like opening hours, addresses etc we can upload from your data or "scrape it" from your public facing websites.

Proves value fast

As soon as we sign an NDA to protect your security, and you give us a green light, we can get started. It sometimes takes us a few days to set up, but after that. You get to see the fires as soon as they start ! With energy waste savings always relate to response time. The sooner we help you flag a problem, the sooner you know you can address it - and you dont need to read 100's of charts before you know where to start !

Plays well with others

We can accept data from any AMR provider, so you are free to switch utilities, we can build on top of existing providers of visualisation tools (we are effectively finding the ones to look at)

Easy to use

If it is routine (and if you choose) we can handle follow up with template emails so we can send messages to people who need to act (in your name and wording) and with very simple, to understand actions. We can then track that action has been taken, send reminders etc. Alternatively, we can send items for action to you.

Return on Investment is obvious

Since this is a "pay as you go" offering, you only use as much or as little as makes sense to you. This makes it massively more relevant to you than the original data collations service, there you pay for all meters, not the important ones only. We can do this as we are not tethered to the data acquisition technology.

If you want one site per week to focus on out of 1000 - that's fine. But as you find the first pays, you may want more, or more frequently, or for us to search for more compel problems. or handle your standard reporting (degree-day reports etc).

Your customers can’t live without it

This is for you to judge - it remains to be seen...

Our job is to make your routine, time consuming tasks (that clearly pay-back but are sometimes horridly complex) simply go away. To make dealing with priorities delightful.

You probably want more freedom to focus on real structural problems or getting more SLIPPERY with your staff. If so we can help, and help make you look good ! (as if you didn't:)

Clicking is even easier than flipping a light switch, so if you want us to make contact - you know what to do :)

Thanks for reading (and please share if you think this might be interesting to colleagues)


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Are smart-meters THIS hard to read ?

Hi all

I haven't posted for a while as we have been a little busy helping a client out that is suffering from smart meter reading services (or AMR if you are old-school).

I was surprised that the client has no means to qualify the service they are getting - they have too many meters to check each every day, and simple QA is a task that lends itself to automation.

So we knocked this together:
Around 700 meters are supposed to be read
50 have failed (red sending no readings) by the end.
100 (blue) have never been active this year (sending a non-zero value)
Passive meters have sent non-zeroes but now send zeroes  (Gas in Summer)
Active (200 green) are sending non-zeroes
Obviously we could run this daily, weekly or monthly depending on what a client needed (and maybe manage tracking problems as a service). We could also break it down into aged meter failure reports, and how many sites (which may have many meters) are complete for analysis purposes.

So getting a little ahead of myself I wondered how many people are in the same boat. We are hoping to fix this for our client, and we believe it might be generally useful to hold service providers to account!

The bottom line to me is - if energy managers need reliable data, and if they can negotiate collectively more powerfully than as single voices, someone has to pull the stats together kWIQly!

So, if at all interested, please fill in these questions below (4 mins. max.), and if you include an email, we will get back to you (absolutely optional). As ever feedback in the comments below is welcome - Plus please any suggestions for related questions in the future.

regards James

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Understanding the use of Data to Drive Behaviour Change

Today a bit of a change;  I have been asked to help out with regards a survey taking place regarding the UK Smart Meter driven behaviour change. The Energy Industries Council  and acclaro advisory working in conjunction with DECC

The intent is to understand the commercial and public sector requirements for data and information, including how the knowledge is provided, to affect behaviour change. Which - as our readers will know is predicated on achieving the savings anticipated together with maintaining them over time.

Please note that kWIQly is fully in support of initiatives to support understanding of meter data use, but short of supporting network connections (we partner with acclaro for some clients) this survey is unconnected to our work.

So without further ado either click HERE to answer a survey that will take 10 minutes to complete and to receive a copy of the final report and invite to the launch.  or read on as they describe the intentions in their own words....

The Lean Energy Management Technique

Dear Energy Manager, 

If you were managing a young "startup" company you would be aware of "The "Lean Startup Movement" - a concept for refining objectives of small companies who are trying to "change the world" developed by a smart chap called Eric Ries.

The Lean Startup Process
As an energy manager (in fact this is true for many managers), you may notice three things:
  1. You are also someone trying to change something 
  2. Your job is never done - success is somewhere you pass through on the way up
  3. You need to be lean (because there is never much fat in the energy budget)
I have argued before this puts energy managers into a context that is rather like entrepreneurial development. 

By definition you will not succeed !

Written like this, it sounds like a thankless and futile life, but it is not. What matters is not only improvement and enhancement, but the management of things that slip backwards and elimination of things that do not work.

This tells us three things:

Firstly - You are like a startup founder

You are in the midst of a circular process, which we can look at in a minute, and trying to find better ways of solving existing energy related problems. (i.e. disruptive innovation).

You reject the "its always been done that way" argument - you seek change.

Secondly - Some things do go wrong, (that's a part of life), but the energy manger responds.
  • by learning fast (and wasting the minimum during the learning process) 
  • by changing direction towards achievable goals
And Third - Some initiatives work. 

There are things that might take off, could be rolled-out. but need a development process, budgets and a management process ( a business model). Inshort these incubated ideas need nurturing (very much as an investor backs a small startup which shows some chance of rewards).

How does this look like founding a business ?

A business that does not have enough cash goes out of business, and a small company starts with very little cash. An energy management project is the same (examine it, try it, see if it flies, if it does roll it out, but if it doesn't kill it fast and move the budgets to some possibly better alternative.

A business is like a series of experiments ("I think this will sell", "let's try offering this", "maybe people will come back if we").

These experiments succeed or fail. Like you the startup company has limited resources - if it is going to fail, you need to "fail fast", that is to say stop digging! In the startup world this is followed by a "pivot" - ie a change or improvement in direction.

The very same is true of an energy manager, you have limited social capital, credibility or funds, and when these dry up you are out of business (literally and perhaps in a very personal and painful way).

Why does intelligence matter ?

Measurement (against expected targets) is the only way of knowing if it is working. 

It amazes me when an energy manger is conned into buying some "snake-oil" product and rolls these out because the salesman "promised it worked". We have seen this in the biggest engineering companies of the world, in the smartest money hungry companies, and in highly respected research establishments. Honestly, when someone finds a way of getting more calories out of a drop of oil by waving magnets, crystals or pyramids over it, I will hang up my hat - Meanwhile the laws of Physics Rule!

So every experiment (or hypothesis) regards how you will save money should have some acid test. You need to know if it works (in hindsight - not whether you believed at the outset - we can all convince ourselves).

Need for decisiveness

Proverbs 26:11 tells us: "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." (King James).
Whether you believe in something or not initially, if it does not work - don't do it. It is far easier to keep trying something that you once believed in. But that is foolish. So the best approach is to define your criteria for success up front. Then test, test, test. And if it works refine, refine, refine. And if it doesn't reject and move on.

Why does speed matter ?

Failing fast, is not only about noticing the sooner you stop digging the less it hurts. It is also about recognizing that you have a limited time (runway in startup parlance) before your money or resources run out, and you can only bankroll a limited number of experiments. Going to corporate finance with a plan is much easier if you stopped the financial haemorrhages that did not work, before the well ran dry.

More importantly failing fast is a mind set. If you get stuck in a rut, momentum builds up and its much harder to stop the runaway. So the key idea of fail-fast is to learn at the earliest possible opportunity, with least possible cost when to change track.

And back to the top...

For convenience I have repeated the chart here. 
If you click it gets bigger

The only significant difference is that bureaucrats in energy management and international standards ISO 50001 seem to like long words like "Implementation and Operation" or "internal Audit"  , but I think we get the picture :)
IS0 50001 process concept (links to kWIQly)

For me the most telling words are those in the middle of the lean-startup movement diagram.

So, respond powerfully, intelligently, and rapidly, you know why we are called kWIQly  - but these words could be the survival mantra of the energy manager

"Minimize the total time through the loop"

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Be a thought leader - Yawn

Can we change the world - How ?

Obviously the answer is yes - everything we do changes the world. But sometimes we forget and so overlook tiny opportunities. And tiny opportunities can really change the world. Naturally, it is really satisfying when we can be significant, or even measurable.

Some people are paid to change our behaviour - the list includes (for good or bad) schoolteachers, politicians, energy managers and naturally marketing people and company leaders.  And thought leadership is available for all...

Comfort, energy waste and the heating season

So another long balmy summer comes to a sudden end (or does it)?

No - Sharply defined heating seasons are a lazy shorthand for "I don't care if I maximize comfort given my energy budget".

How to be #1 as an energy manager

Some of you will have seen the spectacular new video advert for Guinness by their agency BBDO.

If you haven't please just watch this first - and enjoy being truly blown away!

And then maybe come back and find out what this has to do with energy management.

If you watched the video - you just saw something unapologetically value-laden, energetic, smart and you grasped the point in around 40 seconds - the rest after that was just pure warm fuzzy stuff.

And the pure warm fuzzy stuff was the whole point (Drinking Guinness with your mates) is about caring! - That is pretty astonishing stuff in the masculine world of the beer commercial.

Six poor ways of finding waste and "Why?"

Today a question about questions. Phrasing the key question to find energy waste is important.

A question can elicit an explanation if well-phrased but may waste time with meaningless data otherwise.

Know waste, No nonsense, Know Now !

There has been a lot of discussion recently about relative merits of "energy audits that involve site visits" versus so called "virtual energy audits".  A lot of this discussion has been a waste of breath, and some useful points have been overlooked that actually serve the energy manager contemplating one or the other (or both).

Clearly, as engineers and energy managers, we should be capable of assessing an issue with a degree of objectivity.

What promises do you keep ?

What promises do you make in your working life ? 

Do you start with Money, Carbon, Cost, Comfort or simply compliance?

Who do you make them to (senior management or all building users equally), compliance officers, human resources , the union etc etc?

 - and why should they believe you ? !

My friend +William Mougayar recently wrote a post Introducing Product-Value Alignment at Startup - it taught me a few things and I liked, for example, his definition of a value proposition : 

"the most convincing promise you make to your users, customers, and prospects."

Naturally this applies to energy managers although William writes for entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists - How so? ... 

The reason is simple - any energy manager is driving change in an existing environment and must operate very much like the manager of a startup company. To achieve change disrupts, and disruption can be a great thing, but change is risky!

So energy managers can be thought of as (and to an extent should be treated like) entrepreneurs, where innovation involves both risk and good rewards for success

Many engineers during their childhood learned from a simple idea:
"If it can be fixed - break it !"

Matching energy demand and supply (compensation)

I  just added an brief entry to the kWIQly resources page which will help anyone wanting to understand the basics of how direct compensation can be implemented mathematically. Do feel free to use it in energy management or building services course materials etc.

However, more important for energy managers is knowing why and when to use compensation and more specifically its' superiot lesser known cousin, direct compensation.

The emphasis of this post is not about how it works, but why, the particular benefits and pit-falls, and how you can improve on it.
Direct compensation helps match supply of energy to demand
Compensation Is a key means to save energy

Definition of Temperature Compensation

Compensation is a strategy to save energy in buildings and is a principle strategy widely used to define target flow temperatures for most Variable Temperature Zones that may support Fan-Coils, VAV units radiators etc.

Generic specifications - What the ?!*k

Over the years I have written a few control strategy specifications for buildings.

 By the way - the pictures are some buildings where I have worked on controls specifications over the years (they have no real purpose  - but nice photos break up the words quite nicely don't you think?).

St Johns Cambridge
On more than one occasion I have been asked to write a "generic specification", which does sound really quite stupid.

Google Energy Waste Search Engine

It doesn't exist yet, but certainly a search for waste is the job of any energy manager. And it's valuable.

There are some reasons that explain why it doesn't exist, and some hints as to where it might come about.

Food and Energy Waste are Similar

Lets consider a very simple idea - Food provides energy so its very like oil, or gas or sunshine.

When we talk about energy consumption - that usually means what we end up paying for. But let' take a closer look...

There's what you pay for...

there's what you eat...

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The typical energy manager has two conflicting drivers that meet to form a single objective.
Energy Management Dilemma
Between a Rock and a Hard Place ?

The conflicting drivers are naturally the inputs.

A) What is being done
B) What it is costing

Note "what is being done" is really producing output eg "widgets manufactured" or"meals served" but this is an input to the energy management perspective - Our energy manager reads it from a screen.

Eco-Warrier or 1 in 10,000 ?

The Flower portrait (known to be a 19th centur...
The Flower portrait (known to be a 19th century forgery) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you an eco-leader marching to save the planet?

Will you be remembered by a latter day Shakespeare as one leading a "band of brothers"?

    But we in it shall be remembered -
    We few, we happy few,
         we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me... 

No - for we are energy managers !

Perhaps our words betray us...

They fired me for saving energy

First a bit of background -

I was completely innocent -  as we all were once - right ? ; )

Semi-Digital Control #Rant !

It's been a while since I had a good rant...

So here we go.

We've all heard of digital control (ON/OFF), but semi-digital control is simpler  - (ON) !
Practitioners of semi-digital control fit that bill - simple (as in simpleton) and are the bane of many an energy manager.
1925 Pelapone PD6, 17 litre 6 cylinder, petrol...
1925 Pelapone PD6, 17 litre 6 cylinder, petrol engine-generator set, ex a standby generator at Shrewsbury Hospital Now on display at the Internal Fire museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their arguments go something like this;

  1. Our controls company said we should keep the lead boiler enabled at all times
  2. Our chiller manufacturer says the chiller is designed to manage load efficiently and there is no need to switch off.
  3. Switching fluorescent lights off reduces their life and consumes more energy on start.
And the biggest BS:

How to save 1.5 Trillion Dollars - that's the question !

Is 1.5 Trillion Dollars really available as energy savings in buildings each year ?

Global energy production is known by the IEA to be around  12,717 Mtoe

(million tonnes of oil equivalent) and one single tonne of oil equivalent is 11,630 kWh so simple multiplication gives us 147 Trillion kWh.

However we must convert production to end use where a factor of 65% is close.

The World Council for Sustainable Business Development tells us 40% of this is used in buildings - so we get to a building consumption figure of 38 trillion kWh.

If we take a delivered price of 10 cents for energy end-use in buildings (which could be debated) we end up with 3,800,000,000,000 dollars each year.

But it may be that only 40% of this is waste according to WCSBD so energy managers in buildings can only save us from potentially 1.52 Trillion Dollars waste per year.

So what's the problem ?

According to WCSBD the problem is very clear - this is their summary:

3D energy management

3D webgl enabled chart showing energy managers when waste occurs
Screenshot of interactive 3d performance model
kWIQly have been invited to showcase our new demo at the O'Reilly Fluent conference (javascript and beyond). Since many readers will not be in San Francisco. I thought we should give you an idea of what it can do for energy managers.

If you like you can try it yourself at home:)

energy insight demo

A couple of the features need a modern browser with a webGL graphics card to see 3D imagery of consumption and weather vs time.

So why not see if they work for you ?

If you drag your mouse on the diagrams and nothing happens you may need help to enable the functionality in your browser 

Spot the waste

click to enlarge

Imagine a university campus with 9 buildings  or perhaps an office complex.

Each area, only  needs heating below a certain temperature, and the demand increases as the temperature falls into winter.

So the start points vary, but the total demand should always be concave, because once heat is needed, more is needed the colder it gets - you can see this illustrated idealistically.


kWIQly finalists for OReilly Startup Showcase 2013 in SF

As you can imagine we are thrilled to be chosen as on of the ten startups from around the globe for the O'Reilly Startup Showcase in San Francisco.

We will be presenting on the Wednesday and perhaps (who knows) later.

If you want to come and talk with kWIQly - you know where to find us  (George and James Attending)

Good Germs Make Healthy Buildings

This fantastic TED talk by Jessica Green exemplifies Building Energy intelligence. Fascinating and somehow gruesome it explains great scientific technique. How you can change building health with good ventilation design, how hosptital iatrogenic problems may be mitigated.

So watch this and enjoy - and hey - Its even part of your work !

And yes - I really want to get hold of a means to monitor this ! - Any feedback please use the comments below.

And this one is worth sharing !


What is a dashboard for?

Thunderbird Dashboard
Thunderbird Dashboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What should an energy dashboard show?

It really depends on what it's for, and a lot of people forget that all important detail !  So too many people pay to see a "dashboard" which doesn't tell them what they need to know.

Clearly a dashboard is to show what you need to see, and to show it - well obviously ! But it isn't a windscreen - it's not where you should be looking most of the time !

If you drive a car, your dashboard is below your windscreen, it doesn't tell you where you are going (hopefully your navigator does that - darling the map's the wrong way up :), it doesn't tell you about the immediate hazards of driving (the child running across the road), but it DOES tell you about how you are driving, and relevant data about the machine you are controlling.

Engineering equivalent of a theme restaurant ?

Roles are all often too inflexible

In a restaurant roles are quite clear. Your `job' is to order the food and eat it. At the same time you expect staff to prepare, cook, fetch & carry and even wash the dishes afterwards (insert your favourite "I forgot my wallet" joke here :)

Oh, Mr Porter!
Oh, Mr Porter! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But do you feel like a chump in a hotel when a porter tries to carry your bags for you - Call me uncultured but I always find that strange. - then he wants a tip !

In fact it seems that not letting people do whatever they want and be happy doing so is the domain of the "excellent service world".

Well I have news ...

Are your Easter holidays overly energetic?

Treatment of Holidays and Occupancy for Energy Managers  (.pdf)When asked how we handle different days (holidays, weekends, etc) I was told my answer was useful.

So,  I thought I better write it  up. If you agree it's useful,  please do feel free to circulate.

Here is how we treat different days treatment-of-occupancy-and-holidays as a two pager...

In short it says:

Different days have different consumption patterns (based on holidays, meter reading failures, weekends, opening hours etc). This will make a nonsense of energy management statistics that do not handle these issues correctly. So a) this is how we do it, and b) if you are considering buying investing or otherwise paying for tools to help manage your buildings, you may want to check these issues.

To make the blindingly obvious yet more obvious, imagine you compare this month with the same month last year to assess performance.

Imagine there are a different ratio  of weekends to week days - does this screw up your calculation, how about the Easter holiday shutdown ( a movable feast)  or what about a meter reading failure - how can you know your calculations make sense ?

In the simplest case there may be more days (my wife was born on 29th February - so I only have a quarter of the number of birthdays to forget - so far I have a 50% record in eight years - not shabby IMHO:)

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So you have smart-meter data, but is it clean?

A household-name client of ours is very big in Energy Performance Contracting, they, like us face a potentially explosive market demand, and they, like us, understand that the fastest way you can get a take on energy saving opportunity in a group of buildings is using pattern recognition. This can make it viable to "get a grip" on thousands of buildings before pricing services or exposure to expensive in-depth expert surveys on site.

There is one major problem - 

tl;dr version is a non-technical description of the first thing we do with client energy data to clean it up. It might make you think, or raise problems you have not considered. Please feel do free to comment or circulate the link, stick it online somewhere or whatever (if you do please do also link back in case we make revisions) . 

Maintain / Enhance - No Management Dilemma

MG TF (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
MG TF (Photo credit: kenjonbro)
If you own a very nice sports car there is a dilemma between maintain and enhance that will one day confront you. 

It is different for an energy manager.

A Beautiful Mind - on the Pareto Efficiency Frontier

English: John Forbes Nash, American mathematic...
 John Forbes Nash, American mathematician and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics 1994, at a symposium of game theory at the university of Cologne, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK, If this is the first visit to my blog I apologize - this ones a deep read !

10 Smart-Meter Answers - why gas before electricity ?

Hopefully this short post will spark or fire up some debate.

Assume you have 100 buildings and 100 smart-meters and each building uses gas for heating & hot water and electricity for cooling and lights, socket loads etc. So each building for primary utility supply requires two smart-meters without considering water.

So should you install smart gas meters then electricity or vice-verse ? I know what I think - read on..

European Smart Metering Awards

kWIQly has been shortlisted for the European Smart Metering Awards 2013

The awards recognize "excellence in Smart Metering" and acknowledge those that are playing "a defining role in moving the industry forwards".

We are shortlisted in the category "Innovation of the Year Award 2013". 

Best or most improved - Energy Attitudes!

'Does it makes sense to buy a building with good benchmark performance ?'

I asked my colleague this and he didn't know the answer (he probably realised it was a trick question ) - Have you ever REALLY thought about it ?

Obviously better buildings are simply better - all other things being equal.  Other things are never equal!

Benchmark studies compare buildings against their peers. So energy cost of a square foot of office space seems a useful comparison in a particular region. And it is, but different buildings are managed better or worse by different owners. The benchmark tells you nothing about how to improve !

Single performance benchmark can seriously muddy the water.

NodeJSRocks - Walking the Walk

A couple of months back I said a colleague and I were messing around at a Google DevFest with some ideas for the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. We were just showing the truly disruptive potential of a zero cost great O/S on high quality low cost hardware by reading some USB themometers.

It's all very exciting to talk the talk - but sometime companies need to walk the walk. So we are please to announce that we are now sponsoring an Open Source Experiment on github.

You can read about it in it's very early form here... (A blog post by my colleague Andreas who authors the brilliant NodeJSRocks blog )

Actually if you have anything to do with NodeJs more generally you should subscribe to his blog.

So if you want to contribute time, ideas, code or simply have a play at getting your Raspberry Pi to graph the temperature of the coffee on your desk (or more useful applications) here is where you can.

Obviously, more is to come. I have been involved in specifying an entire BMS / BCS many years ago that met with some commercial success, and I think it is time we disrupted a few very slow very died-in-the-wool markets.  One thing is clear, the old days of closed protocol lock-in are still here for many energy managers and HVAC installation companies.

The intellectual input to produce an open source, openly configurable control, open-communicating system with great self-diagnostics exists. And if it were produced it would shake some corporate assumptions pretty dramatically.

So let's have some fun!

Oh - and anyone that thinks Honeywell and Siemens don't have a problem from the upstart that is Raspberry Pi had better watch out !...

PS I know about BacNet etc - but is has failed to deliver what it could on so many levels because it is built on the idea of "first risk nothing" approach.  The world has to change and that is going to take some risks. The least of which is upsetting some apple carts - so whoops !

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