Energy Lens – Energy Management Software Review
Energy Lens is a tool that does one thing and does it well. If your are looking for a powerful and simple tool to track and analyze your utility spending, Energy Lens can’t be beat. There are better tools if you are looking for automatic integration with your meters, building automation, or building control.
- Simple to use
- Integrates with Excel
- Powerful analytics built in
- Charts created with one click
- Saves time importing energy usage data
- Doesn’t directly integrate with your metering system
- No building automation or control
There are a lot of software tools designed to help analyze your energy consumption and identify ways to become more efficient. Some are good, some are bad, but most are complex and hard to learn.
One of our favorite tools used to analyze energy consumption is Energy Lens. While it isn’t perfect, it makes our job much easier and often replaces our home grown spreadsheets when we analyze utility bills for our customers. While our spreadsheets worked fine, Energy Lens just makes the job much easier, allows us to more deeply analyze the data, and provide more value to our customers.
Simple and easy to learn
One of the thinks I like best about Energy Lens is that is does one thing and does it well. It doesn’t model buildings. It doesn’t calculate energy savings for motors, air compressors, etc….It doesn’t make you a great cup of coffee….
It just charts and analyzes your energy consumption. Nothing more, nothing less.
And it does a fantastic job.
This is where it stands out from it’s competition. Most energy management software companies want to do everything. They create super complex systems that require extensive installation costs and training. Energy Lens is simple and can be used almost immediately…without training.
The thing I like best is that it makes it faster and easier to analyze your utility bills. We used to have to manually input all the data. Now I can import it directly from the customer’s meters or from their utility. This alone saves me hours of manual labor.
How it works
You import your data, and Energy Lens helps turn that data into useful charts and graphs. Point, click, and you are analyzing your energy consumption. And because Energy Lens works within Microsoft Excel, you can seamlessly connect Energy Lens to your existing spreadsheets and other tools.
Most people are satisfied with the built in charts and tools, but if you need to see the data in a unique manner, you can create custom charts from the table of data. Note: 90% of users never need this feature.
How most companies track their energy spending
Let’s look at how most companies track their energy spending. Once a month someone enters the data from their utility bill. They usually log the kWh used as well as the total price.
Energy Lens uses interval data imported from smart meters or from you utility. The typical interval used is 15 minutes, which means that data is logged every 15 minutes. Instead of one data point each month, you end up with thousands of data points.
Now you can look at peak demand and see what is driving up the peak charges. You can also look at hourly, daily, or weekly trends.
Simple but powerful.
Energy Lens is a plugin for Microsoft Excel, and works with all versions including Excel 2010. As such it is easy to install. You download and run the installation file. That’s it. Energy Lens installs and integrates with Microsoft Excel.
Using Energy Lens
Using Energy Lens is simple. You import your data. At this point you can start analyzing your data. You select the chart you need, make a few minor choices (minimum, average, maximum, etc…). Then you push chart.
Energy Lens goes to work and creates complicated charts for you to analyze. You can also take these charts and use them in other documents. This is what we do with our energy audits. We analyze the utility usage in Energy Lens and copy the charts into our report.
Types of Charts
Energy Lens allows you to quickly create charts that you can then analyze to find areas of energy savings or to track you progress as you implement energy conservation measures.
One of my favorites charts (see Chart 1 below) shows the energy consumed each day of a month. Not only does it allow you to spot trends, it can show unexpected energy use outside of expected operating hours.
Once you’ve looked at the overview you can drill down and get a closeup of a single day (see chart 2).
You can also chart the data on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This is great when you are looking for trends or want to track the actual energy savings from the energy conservation measures you implement. Chart 3 shows a sample monthly chart.
The charts are pretty helpful without modification. In fact, I use them as is for 90% of my analysis. That being said, I occasionally need to adjust the settings so that I can focus in on an anomaly.
The best part is the price. Most energy management and energy consulting tools are expensive. Seriously, you end up paying thousands for each license since you are paying for a ton of features that many customers don’t need. Energy Lens doesn’t have to cost a small fortune since it does one thing and does it well.
Other competitors charge a fee each month. For example EnergyCAP (another great tool) charges a monthly fee. For most companies that amounts to $68 per month. Ok, that may be a drop in the bucket, but within one year you’ve paid for Energy Lens…and you keep on paying. Note: Energy CAP is a great tool that is similar to (but slightly different from) Energy Lens. It is also more complicated and takes a bit more training to use.
At $495 Energy Lens is a bargain. The best part is that they let you try it before you buy it. They even include several sample data sets for you to play with. And you get to use the full version, not some scaled down version missing key features.
Check out their website if you are interested in learning more about Energy Lens.