Severe winter weather makes power saving software a smart investment

Record low temperatures in the U.S. have driven electric bills even higher on the back of strong demand.

Despite persistently low inflation in the U.S., electricity costs continue to rise across the country. The recent spate of cold weather, highlighted by subzero temperatures as far south as the Midwest and states such as Kentucky, has only made matters worse, driving up demand for both electricity and heating oil.

While consumers are feeling the pain of rising electric bills, the problem could be even more serious for organizations. In addition to keeping the lights on and powering appliances, many companies must also maintain complex IT systems with hundreds or even thousands of endpoints, many of which stay on around the clock in order to support mission-critical applications.

Accordingly, the stakes are higher than ever for reducing energy costs by using power management software. IT departments need a way to pare electricity consumption without disrupting productivity, and this solution accomplishes that by analyzing a comprehensive set of computer activities and producing detailed reports. For a fleet of 1,000 PCs, the savings could be as high as $50,000 per year.

Electricity costs driven up by inclement weather
Each year, commercial and industrial organizations spend a staggering $2.25 trillion on energy, and the figure may go higher before dropping. Between Nov. 2010 and Nov. 2013, the Electricity Price Index (CPI) rose from 193 to approximately 202.

This steady increase has been punctuated by events such as the recent deep freeze across North America, which put unexpected demand on the electric grid. Prior to the front’s onset, a Pennsylvania electric supplier predicted that conditions could lead to record levels of usage. Its previous high had been 7,557 megawatts, reached Feb. 5, 2007.

The Jan. 6, 2014, figure was 6,700 megawatts, short of the all-time high but still far above the typical winter peak of 2,620 megawatts. Temperatures hovering near zero degrees Fahrenheit, together with winds of up to 30 miles per hour, kept people indoors and drove up demand for both electric and heating gas.

In New York, many individuals experienced sticker shock upon opening their first electric bills of the winter. Cold weather may have precipitated a 50 percent rise in customer costs near Albany, N​.y., and other parts of the state. The price of a megawatt-hour of electricity rose from $43 in Nov. 2013 to more than $66 the following month. Overall, New York set a new record for electricity usage on Jan. 7, 2014, using 25,738 megawatts.

The implications of rising electricity bills for enterprises
It’s perhaps unsurprising that such high demand would be met by rising costs. Still, enterprises may in a tough situation as they try to keep expenses down, both in general and during unusual events such as the recent polar vortex.

For businesses, this surge has translated into steeper rates per kilowatt-hour and elevated prices during peak demand hour, which already account for nearly one-third of corporate power use. Whether a company operates complex IT infrastructure or a smaller fleet of PCs and Macs, it can benefit from power saving software. This tool goes beyond just analyzing keyboard and mouse activity and instead takes into account CPU, disk and network activity. With easy report sharing and flexible configurations, this solution can help organizations out of the bind rising electricity prices have them in.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.