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.

So lets take a look at the definition as Wikipedia has it... Wikipedia - Audit

"Auditing is defined as a systematic and independent examination of data, statements, records, operations and performances (financial or otherwise) of an enterprise for a stated purpose."

To me one thing is immediately obvious - there is nothing in this definition that suggests that an audit can be completed by arbitrary exclusion or wilful ignorance of some important subset of the data available. If there were then the definition would clearly "suck" because it also says "independent" and would stand in contradiction of itself.
So an audit is to be an independent systematic, and comprehensive examination of evidence regarding an enterprise for a stated purpose. Certainly it can involve sampling but not arbitrary exclusion, because comprehensive and complete are different (comprehensive suggests sufficient for safe judgement rather than an exhaustive thoroughness).

We can probably agree a simple definition of the "stated purpose". and by doings so reach agreement on something like:

"Systematic and independent examination of the enterprise to uncover energy waste causes and establish priority for their elimination or amelioration".

However, I think it is implicit that "using whatever tools seem most appropriate and effective" is also somewhere in the context.

So our intent is (as I suggested in my oh so catchy title) "Know waste, No nonsense, Know Now !"

If you have got this far, then surely you will allow me to argue a point:

If "the enterprise" is dispersed all across the nation (or further) like a hotel chain, some food franchises or a rail network, then the advantages of avoiding travel weigh more heavily that say regarding an audit of a school district involving a similar number of properties.

So for a larger network where travel and time are costly *if* remote or virtual audits can either highlight problems or indicate an all clear they can thereby help efficiently allocate resources (say travelling experts). It follows this might be "
appropriate and effective".

Nobody would I think be foolish enough to suggest a remote virtual audit could wholly replace on-site inspection say of a hardware problem for example of slack in a valve shoe...

But equally I think we can all see that if we have data available data (on this chart we can assess a problem from wherever we happen to be browsing the internet).

This can a) inform a subsequent visit, and/or  b) prove that a visit is worthwhile, rather than speculative and potentially worthless.

However, lets go to the simplest case - assume we have two buildings consuming gas and chart daily average power (yellow dots) vs outside temperature (Celsius). Which would you think of these most urgently needs a visit?

Gas Consumption (Yellow) Very Weakly Correlated to Outside Temperature

Gas Consumption (Yellow) Strongly Correlated to Outside Temperature

To my thinking when we score the volatility of gas consumption as a function of weather we get really useful information.

If I say the top chart has a standard error of 150kW and the lower has a standard error of 40kW, given that I know that these buildings have very similar plant and operational function, I think we can safely say that the latter is under tighter control regards gas consumption and weather. Or more importantly that at say 4p/ kWh the top one is wasting relative to mean consumption under load approximately £13,000 per annum. 

This is only one example - there are hundreds of KPIs per building are of interest (and some may be of daily interest) - but nobody can effectively look at thousands of graphs every day. However a pattern recognition engine like kWIQly can and does score the waste evidence and so can help establish priority.

So my argument is - if a virtual audit can filter and select and rapidly prioritise site visits - it is not a case of weighing the virtual versus the physical audits, but one of selecting the right tool for a job and operating as effectively as possible as an energy manager.

Anyone who takes a religious position about which is better misses the point. They both have their place, and interestingly by prioritising site visits, more visits pay-off and so these virtual tools create work for site auditors (and controls engineers etc) in otherwise unserved areas of the market. Everyone benefits - What's not to like ? (As our American brethren might exclaim !)

"Know waste, No nonsense, Know Now !" - get to know kWIQly

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