Your Fifth Step - Measure & Verify

You want to save money on energy, but you have a day job, time is short, and the market for energy solutions seems overwhelming.

Follow the BOOM! software's simple, five-stage process to make solar, storage energy efficiency quick and simple to assess, prioritise and implement.


Stage Five - Verification: Is everything working?


Good question! And you’ll be glad you asked...

One of the annoying things about energy bills is that you have to pay them. They also tend to arrive every three months, which makes it hard to keep track of the ups and downs, and why they’re varying.

Measurement and verification is the fifth stage of the BOOM! Platform - so let’s confirm those before we delve any deeper:

boom process

The five stages are on continuous repeat and can be accessed at any stage. Ongoing data monitoring in stage 5 enables quick, proactive, and effective decision making over time, and means you're prepared for new technologies (like batteries) as they reach maturity.


How do we monitor energy demand?

In Victoria, and increasingly across NSW, QLD and WA, we are lucky to have smart meters which provide better visibility over energy usage. Smart meter data is critical to informing robust energy business cases, and can also be used to help check if solar systems are working as they should.

 However, smart meter data can be hard to access, and for a layperson, very hard to analyse. For most utility-installed smart meters, it also presents a fundamental limitation — if your overall consumption is unchanged after solar or other energy upgrades are installed, is it because those upgrades aren’t working, or has consumption gone up due to other reasons? 

Particularly for large energy consumers, we recommend installing a dedicated energy monitoring system which can provide more detailed information. Monitoring can cover individual items, for example, a solar inverter, or individual electric circuits for hot water, or electric heating and cooling systems. A smart monitoring solution will allow you to delve into the details, picking up intermittent issues. For example, we recently detected a faulty hot water heater at a school by noticing periodic spikes in electricity demand. Something that would never have been picked up using three-monthly bills!

As well as detecting faults, the BOOM! Platform can use this monitoring data to report on costs and savings, and reconcile this against the starting business case for solar or other energy upgrades. This feedback can be instrumental in keeping stakeholders (like boards, finance providers and government) engaged on the benefits of energy efficiency and solar, paving the way for scaled-up programs.


What are the solar monitoring options?

Most solar inverters include a monitoring app, which can be used to monitor performance and report any faults. BOOM can talk to several types of solar inverters and aggregate this information, but this monitoring has its own limitations. Typically, these systems only report solar production, and so cannot infer savings alone — that depends on how much of the solar output is consumed onsite, and so consumption needs to be monitored in parallel. These systems typically rely on a local internet connection, which may be unreliable in tenanted properties (e.g. due to changes in WiFi passwords or internet providers).

Where possible, we recommend a dedicated fit-for-purpose metering solution from our friends at Wattwatchers. Their device is installed within the switchboard, and can monitor up to six circuits (say solar, heating, cooling and electric hot water), at timescales of 5 minutes or less. Data is transmitted to the cloud via a cellular 4G connection, avoiding any hassles with local internet settings.

wattwatchers

This can add between $500-1000 per property to the installation cost of solar or other upgrades, plus some minor ongoing fees for data costs. For a large-scale program spread across many small properties, monitoring can be limited to a sample of properties if budgets are limited. For larger installations, monitoring is almost always worthwhile, both in terms of pre-feasibility assessment, and to pick up any issues after. Where a solar outage can cost hundreds of dollars per month, a monitoring system can very easily pay for itself if it allows these faults to be resolved quickly. 

If you or your clients are spending $500,000+ on energy upgrades across multiple buildings, then monitoring, measuring and verifying the cost savings and emission reductions is likely to be highly valuable, even if only applied to a sample of buildings. It may also mean a device like Wattwatchers is the best option. 

Not surprisingly, BOOM! Stage Five (Verification) handles all of the above - verifying savings against business reports you created at BOOM! Stage Two, and enabling quick and easy reports to all stakeholders (including your boss). It’s a game changer for sophisticated property professionals like you, who see energy as an important asset which should be proactively managed, without using too much of your time!

BOOM! Stage Five (Verification) is also very handy for one-off solar (and battery) installations - particularly larger systems (>10kW) where the cost of systems being offline, without anyone noticing, quickly adds up. For single solar systems, BOOM! will alert you and your supplier in the near future, ensuring faults are logged and fixes requested.


Time to give BOOM! a try?

1. Schedule an appointment - discuss your needs with Alex and see the BOOM! platform.

2. Engage us to create a personalised, high-level plan based on your needs.

3. Agree, refine and execute the plan — together.