By Richard Ojunga
It is highly likely that at least at one point in your life, you’ve asked yourself, “Where did my money go?”. This can make you frantically go through all your financial receipts and transaction history. If you’re lucky enough, you might have at least once found your money forgotten in one of your trouser pockets or in between your sofa’s cushions. Better yet, you could have figured out where, when and how you spent your ‘lost’ money.
I have a friend who is quite skilled at financial accounting, and I’ve seen him work backwards through their expenditure transaction history to that one weekend when they might have spent just a little more than they should have. I have, at times, had the dreadful thought of standing at a supermarket check-out counter with insufficient funds to make the complete payment for my purchase. For that reason, I find budgeting an essential part of resource management and hopefully, I’d never have to end up in such an unpleasant situation.
Interestingly enough, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Where did my money go?”, you aren’t the only one. Large industries can also end up asking this potentially nerve-racking question. That’s right! Companies have certain costs whose exact causes are often inadequately accounted for, especially utility costs. Electricity consumption is one of the costs in industries that account for a considerable chunk of the operating expenditure. Fortunately, in many cases, the implementation of energy efficiency measures can lead to a reduction of these costs.
AVOCADOS AND REFRIGERATORS
Energy efficiency works in quite a fascinating manner. Think of yourself craving a sweet avocado, so you go to the grocery store and buy two identical-looking avocados of similar weight. After cutting the avocados, you notice that one has a larger seed that eats into a sizeable portion of where its pulp should have been. You might feel tricked since one avocado has more pulp than the other, yet you paid the same amount for each avocado. Unless you were aiming to buy an avocado with little pulp, spending extra money for the ‘missing’ pulp from the avocado — let’s call it Avocado 1 — is similar to using your money for something you won’t eat.
Now let’s translate this to energy efficiency by using the example of a refrigerator. Imagine spending your hard-earned money on extra electricity bills because your refrigerator consumes more electricity than necessary to cool your food and keep it fresh. That feels like such a waste, right? Worry not! We can be grateful for technological advancements that have led to the development of refrigerators that save us money by avoiding wasted energy. In Kenya, there are energy-saving standards and labels for electrical appliances that can save you lots of energy and money. Energy efficiency, therefore, saves your money through avoided costs.
SAVING MONEY AND ENERGY
How do you know if you’re wasting energy? Remember the predicament that involved insufficient money at a supermarket check-out counter, mentioned at the beginning of this article? Oftentimes, if we can have a transactional record to account for our finances by pointing out exactly how we spent all of it, we would know how much is left to spend. Also, we can break down our expenditures to figure out what had the highest costs. If we buy 10 Avocado 1s or use our money in other un-budgeted ways, we can end up spending more than we need to. Many large industries are faced with this problem due to the simple reason that: unnecessary excess use of energy is left unaccounted for. This wasted energy, often caused by operational, technological or behavioral inefficiencies, is still being incurred as an operational cost. Wouldn’t it be helpful to figure out where wastages are by having a transactional record of how energy is consumed in an industrial facility? Without getting into too much detail, real-time energy monitoring is a simple way for industries to have this transactional record of energy consumption. This can provide insight into where, when and sometimes, even how energy is used.
Whether we’re talking about avocados, personal finances or energy, it is important to have a monitoring system in place to track resource usage and eventually identify potential means of minimizing inefficiencies and consequently saving costs.