Energy Lens

Energy management made easy

Energy Lens - Frequently Asked Questions

All the frequently asked questions relating to Energy Lens are on this page, but we've split them into a few categories:

Meters and energy data - requirements and compatibility

Do we need a special meter to use Energy Lens?

Yes. You, or the clients you work for, need at least one meter that records energy consumption at short, regular intervals such as every 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, or 60 minutes. We call these meters "interval meters", though you might also hear them called "smart meters", "AMR", "half-hourly meters", or "Code 5 meters" (in the UK).

There's more about interval metering and interval data here.

What particular meters does Energy Lens work with, and how does it connect?

Energy Lens works with the data from the meters, not the meters themselves. It doesn't connect directly to any particular hardware.

Most interval-metering systems offer a way to export their recorded data in a format that can be opened in Excel, typically a CSV file. Once you've opened the data in Excel, you can load it into Energy Lens to analyze it (i.e. turn it into useful charts).

So with Energy Lens you're not tied to any particular metering equipment. If you change meters, or jobs, or clients, you can take your data-analysis skills with you.

Will Energy Lens work with our interval data?

There are lots of different types of interval-metering systems, and they all export data in slightly different formats. If your interval data has an odd format, you might need to edit it a little before loading it into Energy Lens. But most interval data can be loaded in a couple of clicks.

We have a useful video on the data-loading process, and you can download the free trial of Energy Lens to have a go at loading your own data into the software (to see if you need to do any manual editing first).

Also, please feel free to email us your data so we can give you some tips on how best to load it into Energy Lens.

We don't have interval metering. Can you recommend a system?

At the moment, unfortunately we can't recommend any particular equipment. We have customers all over the world, and the available options vary widely from location to location. And a lot depends on the size of the building.

We are planning to build a section of the site that details metering options, but we need to do more research first. We'd hate to recommend equipment that turned out to be inappropriate or unreliable.

Can we use Energy Lens to analyze gas-consumption data?

Yes, but only if it's interval gas-consumption data from an gas supply that's interval metered, at intervals of 60 minutes or less.

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Suitability of Energy Lens for specific environments and applications

We've got lots of meters. Will Energy Lens work well for us?

Quite likely it will, but perhaps not in the way you're thinking...

If you've got lots of meters, you might be looking for a centralized energy-management-software system for storing and managing all your data. You might want to be able to click a button to see aggregate reports showing how much energy was used across all your meters, over the last week/month/year etc.

Energy Lens is not a centralized system. And it's not built for aggregate reporting. But it really shines at analyzing data from individual meters, one meter at a time (such detailed analysis being the key to reducing consumption as opposed to just reporting it).

So, first you might want to dig into the energy consumption of the accounts office, to check that they've been switching their computers off at night. Next, you might want to look into the conference area, to see if the new lighting controls have helped reduce consumption there. Or you might appoint an energy champion in each location to do this work for you.

A lot of our customers use Energy Lens in conjunction with a centralized energy-management system. They use the centralized system for storing the data and for looking at the big picture of energy consumption across all their supplies. But they use Energy Lens for the proactive energy-saving analysis: digging into the data from specific interval-metered locations to work out how best to save energy and to track the progress at doing so.

We've only got interval metering on our electricity... Shouldn't we find a package that will help us to analyze our gas and oil consumption too?

We can see the appeal of using one software package to manage everything. But why not use Excel? It's a powerful, flexible solution that's ideal for energy-data analysis, especially when you enhance it with Energy Lens for the complicated interval-data work.

Whatever software you use, there's not an awful lot that you can do with low-resolution energy-consumption data like weekly/monthly gas readings or oil delivery records... Regression-based analysis is your only real option, and Excel handles it well (see this article on regression analysis for more on this).

We manage energy data for multiple clients, and we want to send them auto-generated reports once a week... Can Energy Lens do this?

You can use Energy Lens to analyze all of your clients' data (one set of data at a time), but you can't use it to automate the report-generation process completely. For complete automation, you'll typically need something custom developed, or some high-end energy-management software designed for utilities (and likely costing several orders of magnitude more than Energy Lens).

Automated reports make sense for companies that offer a cheap, impersonal service to large numbers of clients. But, whatever software you use to generate them, they can only be of limited value, as the analysis that's most relevant to any one client depends greatly on the nature and usage of their building(s) and the energy-management efforts that they're currently involved in. There's no substitute for human involvement in the energy-management and data-analysis process.

Energy Lens works well for energy-management companies that provide a higher-end, personalized service, by helping them to deliver more in less time. But it can't really help with the sorts of lower-end, fully-automated data-analysis services that utilities often provide their customers with.

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Software requirements and compatibility

What if I don't have Microsoft Excel?

Energy Lens is an Excel add-in, so you do need Excel to use it. A lot of energy consultants and energy managers use Excel for their data analysis, so Energy Lens typically suits them well... But, if you want a web-based or standalone system, take a look at our page on alternatives.

We occasionally get asked if you can use Energy Lens with OpenOffice. Unfortunately the answer to that is "no". It would take a lot of work for us to get Energy Lens working with OpenOffice, and there just doesn't seem to be enough interest for us to justify the necessary investment.

Will Energy Lens run on the Mac?

Unfortunately not. Well, not unless you dual-boot or use windows-emulation software. We have got customers running Energy Lens on the Mac using the Windows version of Excel and Crossover (which lets you run Windows software on the Mac), but, although we've been told it works fine, we've not tested it ourselves.

Will Energy Lens work with my version of Excel?

Almost certainly yes. System requirements are on the download page, but, in brief, Energy Lens works with every version of Excel from Excel 97 to Excel 2013.

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Using Energy Lens

How does Energy Lens work, in really simple terms?

First you load some interval data into Energy Lens:

Once you've loaded some data into Energy Lens, you'll see a range of analysis features, each offering a different way to visualize or summarize the data.

To understand better how Energy Lens works, we recommend you watch these two short videos.

What sorts of analysis can Energy Lens do?

If you download the free trial you can try out all the analysis features. You can also get a pretty good idea from the example charts and tables here.

How does this analysis help to save energy?

It helps you to see where the energy is going, where it's being wasted, and how much progress you're making at reducing consumption. Instead of haphazardly changing lightbulbs, replacing equipment that's actually fine, and putting up vague "Save Energy!" posters, the insight that the detailed analysis will give you will help you to prioritize and focus your efforts on the activities that will bring you the biggest, fastest energy savings. And you'll save a lot more energy as a result.

For a full understanding, we suggest you go through the articles section of our website.

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Demos and the free trial

Can you come and give us a demo?

We don't really do sales visits... They just don't make economic sense at our price point. Time and travel costs are expensive, and Energy Lens would need to cost a lot more if we sold it face to face.

Also, travelling around making sales visits isn't exactly eco friendly... We don't like to make a show of it, and we're not a shining example by any means, but we do care about the environmental impact of our business model.

However, we definitely want you to make sure that Energy Lens is right for you before purchasing. Our online videos make for a pretty effective demonstration of the software (without us coming around and drinking your coffee), and the free trial is ideal for a more thorough evaluation.

Also, if you've been recommended Energy Lens by a colleague, associate, or advisor (a lot of our customers are introduced to Energy Lens this way), you could always ask them for a quick demo the next time you see them. Energy Lens can be used in lots of different ways so it often helps to have someone show you how you could best make use of it.

How does the free trial work? What can we do with it?

You can use the free trial to analyze your own energy data, or you can use it to analyze the sample data that's included.

The software comes with a set of sample energy data built in. You can analyze this sample data for as long as you like - there's no time limit - and you can use it to test out all the analysis features of the software.

But typically you'll want to analyze some interval data of your own. Once you've loaded a set of your own interval data into Energy Lens, you'll have the option of beginning a 10-day trial period. For 10 consecutive days you will be able to analyze as much of your own data as you please. After that 10-day period you can carry on evaluating the software with the sample data, or you can get the full version to continue using it with your own data indefinitely.

Can we use the free trial to help with our work?

Absolutely, yes. Please feel free to use the Energy Lens trial to help you analyze your clients' energy data or to investigate the energy usage in your building(s).

I've downloaded the trial, plotted some charts, found some routine energy waste, and taken steps to reduce it. Why would I want to buy the full version of Energy Lens?

If the free trial has helped you to reduce your energy consumption, that's great!

But energy management is really an ongoing process... If you don't check your energy consumption on a regular basis, you won't be able to prove or quantify the progress you've made, you won't notice when inefficiencies creep back in, and you'll miss out on further energy-saving opportunities.

The free trial of Energy Lens might help you to achieve some quick wins, but buying the software and using it regularly will enable you to save a lot more over the longer term.

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Pricing and purchasing

How much does Energy Lens cost?

Prices are detailed on the buy page.

Are there any maintenance charges?

No. The version of Energy Lens that you buy will be yours to use forever without you having to pay any more money. Our upgrade policy is explained in more detail on the buy page, but, in summary: you'll get free upgrades for at least a year, and you'll never be forced to buy an upgrade that you don't want.

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