Requirements for point of entry meters and thus more accurate billing has changed the way we view our energy usage.
In our earlier post we talked about the changes which the Heat Network (Metering & Billing) Regulations 2014 brought about in the commercial arena – if you missed this blog then click here.
It would be fair to say that the requirement for point of entry meters as a result of the Regulations and the consequent widespread introduction of automated billing solutions has been a real game changer and has really brought the issue of automated billing to the top of the agenda. It has been a long time coming but now that it is here it is making the job of landlord far easier because tenant invoices are now calculated using digitally collected data.
But whilst this is excellent for billing tenants for energy consumption in their own spaces, it still doesn’t answer the question of how to crack down on energy use in shared use spaces within commercial buildings – or to use the correct phrase – energy apportionment.
The concept of energy apportionment, whereby total energy usage in shared use spaces is disaggregated to attribute it to an individual occupant, is not a new thing, in fact, a manual version has been around for some time. The reason however that it is less well explored lies in the fact that it has previously been a manual process and thus the apportionment of energy based on actual usage has been neither quick nor easy and, in many cases, has been quite costly to perform.
So what is the difference now?
Quite simply, the mandatory requirements of the Heat Network (Metering & Billing) Regulations and the consequent widespread adoption of automated billing solutions have moved us on to the next step because these solutions provide one crucial element which is still absent in many buildings – the ability to apportion energy based on actual usage, quickly and easily.
Some people may question why it is so important to apportion the energy usage in shared use spaces but let’s suppose that there are two tenants in your building – one is a recruitment agency which is open 9-5 and the second is a call centre operating 24/7. If they both occupy the same floor space, under the traditional methods of billing for use of shared spaces, the agency will be charged the same as the call centre through the standard service charge – even though their usage of the spaces is 50% less. Understandably tenants have found this unreasonable.
This method also has a negative impact on energy efficiency because if tenants know they are going to be charged a set fee for the use of shared spaces, they have no desire to change their behaviour when using them and thus will probably continue to leave the lights on in toilets and kitchen areas.
The specification of energy apportionment in a building will allow the industry to address this issue and as a result tenants are able to ensure that they are only paying for the energy which they are actually using when they are in the building rather than the energy which their neighbours are using.
This is a far more reasonable billing solution for the tenants and will also allow the industry to take a step closer to meeting the requirements of the Heat Network (metering and billing) Regulations 2014.
More importantly it is now very achievable because many automated billing solutions, such as our own SIP Billing 2 offer automated apportionment based on a number of complex calculations as standard.
In theory energy apportionment is straightforward, and in many respects very easy to understand as a concept –it is still however a major change for the industry. But perhaps it is time to make that change because total visibility of costs is something that we need if we are to promote greater responsibility for energy usage.
If you’re ready to make that change click here to take the next step.