Transcript: A Guide to Understanding K-12 School Electric Bills and How to Save Time and Money
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
According to a 2020 study, California has 2,430 solar-powered schools and leads the nation in solar adoption, yet energy costs are the second-largest expense after teacher salaries.
Most of these schools could benefit from new subsidies and inexpensive energy efficiency measures. Many of these schools have installed solar, yet their electric bills still remain high.
Energy efficiency expert and CEO of Extensible Energy, John Powers, and solar school expert and co-founder of Solar CFO, Tom Monreal, recorded the following webinar about the latest energy efficiency strategies and time-saving tips that can help K-12 schools gain further savings from their solar installations, as well as tips for non-solar schools.
The webinar also reviews how to read and understand all of the charges in a typical California school utility bill and what can be done to reduce those charges.
Watch the entire video or read the transcript below, including a very informative question and answer session at the end.
John Powers 00:00
I'll let Tom introduce himself. I've been in the energy industry for more than 30 years. And in particular, I've worked on both sides of the utility meter. My first job out of college was in the rates department of an electric utility, Portland General Electric. So, I know a lot about how utilities set their rates and how that affects the bills that customers pay.
And then as a consultant, I've helped utilities provide better service to their customers. And as a software entrepreneur, I've helped customers control their usage and hence their utility expenses. That's what we'll talk about today in particular, about how school administrators can understand the needless complexity of their utility bills, and then how intelligent energy management software can help you lower those bills. I'm here with Tom Monreal, and I’ll let Tom introduce himself. Take it away, Tom.
Tom Solar CFO 01:40
Great, John. Good morning, everyone. Appreciate your time. Full disclosure, I’m having an internet outage in my area, so I'm tethered to my mobile hotspot, literally hanging on by a thread but looking forward to speaking to you all today. Again, my name is Tom Monreal from Solar CFO. We advise commercial real estate owners on how to add value to their portfolios and enhance their tenant experience through energy efficiency technologies. As the name suggests, solar has been our primary focus, especially here in the state of California. But we learned that solar is just one leg of the stool, hence why we're here today.
Before we launched back in 2020, I personally spent the last 10 years or so working with public sector entities, everything from school districts, municipalities, all the way up to the state level and implementing and planning large tech projects. So I have some understanding, perhaps some sympathy around some of the challenges they will face. And in collaborating with the Extensible team, we thought it would be meaningful to talk about some of those challenges as it relates to energy. John, if you want to go into the next slide.
For starters, we'll be talking about California quite a bit today, but I think it's important to note that much of what we talk about is relevant to those of you who might be in another state under a different utility service area. But I'm a California native and so I can speak highly to all the wonderful attributes that our beautiful state provides: abundant sunshine, the coastlines, vineyards, theme parks, national parks. But all of that comes at a price, and one of those is the energy rates, which are among the highest in the country. Next slide.
You may find yourself in a pocket within the state where the electricity is delivered through a local municipality or something along those lines, and perhaps the electricity rates are more in line with the rest of the country. But for most of us, we fall into one of these big three: PG&E, SoCal Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric. And those we see have rates anywhere from 45% to upwards of 90% above the national average. So, it's not cheap, from an energy perspective. Now, as we look into public schools, we find that the second-largest expense is that of the energy costs, only behind the faculty and staff salaries. So, this is a big deal. And as I mentioned, I’ve worked with school districts for quite some time, and if we look back 10 or 15 years ago, the world was different in terms of technology — where you may have had a computer with each teacher and a computer lab or a cart with some tablets, and things of that nature. But over time we've seen growth in one-to-one programs where every student is handed a school-owned device. We've expanded to BYOD, or bring your own device programs, where students can bring their smartphone or smartwatch, their Nintendo Switch, all of these things which may not be charging all day at the school’s expense, but the reality is, they're connected, and they're connected to wireless access points. There are smart boards, there's security camera systems, all these sorts of things.
And yet, if we look at the energy consumption for school districts, over 50% of it is related to heating and cooling of buildings. So, all these factors come into play, but at the end of the day, we're back to square one. And, you know, it could be even closer to 60% of the energy consumed is related to heating ventilation, cooling — and furthermore, the COVID-era guidelines for increased ventilation have only compounded this situation. So according to the EPA, on average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. We'll talk a little bit about some of those factors and what could be done. Next slide.
We like to start with some of the “quote unquote” easier items that you can address. A low-hanging fruit is certainly the LED lighting. So, if you've done that already, great, that's going to reduce your consumption. But we've talked to some districts where they're in the midst of an upgrade and that's taking some time, a year or more plus. From there, we go to HVAC optimization: How old is your system? Has it been reprogrammed, are you recommissioning the controls, the replacement of broken components? Things of that nature, that will be impactful for you. Have you upgraded your thermostats? And if so, great. That's going to help with your scheduling and visibility. The maintenance and duct and air sealing, that'll be critical. In fact, uncontrolled air leaks result in generally 10% to 20%, higher heating and cooling bills. So, this is all very impactful. And do you have a building management system? Great, if you do that’s excellent, you're connected. So, we're getting there. But there's just there's a lot to this, as you can see.
Now, from a solar perspective, California leads the way across the country, and to date I think there's over 24 schools that have solar installed. But that's, as I mentioned before, just one leg of the stool, and solar addresses energy, but it doesn't necessarily address demand or time of use for some of the other things. So, next slide.
John Powers 08:00
I got a drop-out in your audio. I think you said 24 schools but I'm pretty sure it's 2400 schools in California that have solar power.
Tom Solar CFO 08:00
Yes, yes, I did in fact, say 2400. So please, John, stop me if I have any technical difficulties, but yeah, 2400: much more significant than 24. Now, all that said, is that enough? All these tools that we talk about? Some school districts will have an energy manager on staff. Few, but some do — but for the bulk of you, I can anticipate that sort of responsibility falls on your facilities or maintenance coordinators. You have small teams, limited resources. How are you going to coordinate these energy systems, assuming you can get them in place? Do you have time to optimize your energy spend once a month, let alone every day or every minute?
And you think about the different ways energy is consumed, and oftentimes, when you use it is just as important, if not more than, how much — and a lot of what we'll talk about today is how are you avoiding your worst 15-minute energy mistake each month? And this is going to be critical. For some of you, you might be familiar with this, this notion, for others it might be new, but — well, John will certainly go into this in-depth, but we refer to it as demand charge. And what is my demand? Right now? What will it be in three hours or five hours? What will the temperature be tomorrow and what will my building occupancy be? And ultimately, how can I maintain a comfort level for the building occupants, and at the same time, keep costs down? Obviously, for you folks, the last thing you need is a bunch of complaints coming in over Betsy and Gus in the attendance office. So, you get where we're going with this — there's a lot to consider. And I'm going to pass it over to John to hopefully provide a little more insight into some of these topics.
John Powers 10:06
Thanks very much, Tom. I really appreciate it. The key takeaway for me from this slide always is, humans are bad at this but fortunately, the software is good at it. A lot of that may look pretty complicated, and of course, a lot of things in schools, including school budgets, are complicated, but what we're here to talk about today is not complicated. Basically, the idea is that the more you save on your utility bill, the more you can dedicate to your mission of educating students in your community. That's what we're here to try and help with.
So, let's just take a minute or more to take a look at a real utility bill: the bewildering information that you see on your utility bill every single month. This is for a real bill from a real customer in California; we've changed the name of the utility because the same ideas apply to all those big utilities in California and beyond that Tom was talking about. This customer has a nice big solar array that produces lots of energy, and yet somehow this customer is paying 16 grand a month to their utility. How can this be so?
We use the phrase “demand charge,” and now I want to dig into what that means. You see on this bill, there are two flavors of demand charge shown here. One is called an on-peak demand charge, and another is called a non-coincident demand charge. These are the kind of words that make customers charge the barricades with pitchforks. Who uses this kind of language? Who talks like this? What in the world is that non-coincident demand, and what are you supposed to do about it?
Well, that's utility-speak for the highest usage of your building in any 15-minute interval for this entire month. So, the biggest energy mistake you make of the month, is non-coincident demand. And what's this on-peak demand? Well, that's the highest usage of your building, in any 15-minute interval during what the utility calls its on-peak period, which is the time of day when utility costs are highest — the time of day they're paying the most for their own power procurement — and in most cases in California that's now between 4pm and 9pm. So, let's take a look. The customer actually pays $28.15 per kilowatt for the highest energy usage interval of the month, and on top of that, pays another $20.78 for the highest interval of usage during that peak on-peak period.
So that's a total of over 16 grand in demand charges. So even though they get a nice fat credit, for all the energy they're producing from their solar array, they're still paying a fortune to their utility every month. What's causing all that? It's important to know that solar alone does not reduce demand charges, as we just saw, and it minimally affects those time-of-use charges. So, what's the main culprit? In most buildings today, and most schools today, it's heating, ventilation, and cooling systems, or HVAC systems. It's true that there are other big energy users, but really when all the HVAC units turn on at once, at a time during the month when the solar production is low, that's going to make demand skyrocket, along with demand charges.
Now, any big user can cause spikes in demand. And in fact, if we add a lot of electric vehicle charging in schools, which we're certainly doing today in California, that can be another cause of high demand. So, let's just make sure we've got a clear picture of the problem. Demand charges are not set by total energy usage. They're not set by the average usage but by the highest usage in any single 15-minute period.
Now, this picture obviously is a bit stylized, but it's representative of what we see all the time in schools with a fair number of electric heat pumps or other electric technology. This one 15-minute interval contributes a lot to the total energy bill for the month, the total utility bill for the month. And in fact, that single 15-minute energy spike can make up 50% or more of your utility bill. This big block of energy, that's half your bill. This tiny block of energy, that's another half of your bill.
So, what can we do about that? Well, it's tough to prevent this manually, as we saw in that complicated slide, but intelligent energy management software that watches all of the energy being used, all the temperatures in every zone, all the output of any solar array, all the different causes of that peak, can help shift that load to a different period. That knocks down those spikes, which saves you a lot on your utility bill. Similarly, remember I said that the utility also charges more for energy during the on-peak part of the day. You can also shift energy away from that on-peak usage and save a lot of additional dollars on your utility bill.
I'm seeing questions come in already. I love that. Please keep the questions coming. I promise we'll leave plenty of time for Q&A between now and the end of the period. Some are talking in the chat, which is totally fine. Some are in the Question and Answer stuff. That's fine too. Please feel free to ask questions as we go. We'll address them shortly at the end of the presentation.
I'll just take a quick minute to describe how our software, called DemandEx — which is not your building automation system or your smart thermostats, which do nothing about demand charges, but work with those systems if you have them. So instead, DemandEx is an autonomous cloud-based system that works every minute of the day, to identify ways to prevent high demand peaks and reduce your energy spend. Beyond controlling cost, you also get things like better comfort and convenience. In fact, our customers like to talk about their four C's, which are Comfort, Control, Cost, and Carbon. And any system that is watching all the different attributes of your usage patterns should be able to deliver on all four of those important decision factors.
For anyone who's interested in how it all works behind the scenes, hit me up anytime, I am John@extensibleenergy.com, because I can talk all day about our clever forecasting and optimization algorithms that can model any electric utility rate that you're on to deliver all kinds of control to any of these flexible loads — not just HVAC but batteries, electric vehicle charging, and more. But I should move on so that we can get to the Q&A, which is the most interesting part of any of these conversations.
In fact, while DemandEx will work for any school, the savings only get better if your building has solar, if it has electric vehicle charging, or electric heat, or any of these other complicating factors, because any of these things end up creating those big spiky loads that I just showed, which can be very expensive, but which can be optimized. DemandEx is kind of the low-hanging fruit that makes sure you get the most out of any of these current or future investments. And I'll just say, particularly because California has been so advanced in putting solar behind the meter in schools, the demand savings get better with solar from any DemandEx implementation.
The good news is there's not a heavy lift, it's software. This is not complicated to buy, install, learn use, any of that. It's a one-day installation. There are a couple of bits of hardware we have to put in, in order to be able to communicate with and control the loads in the building. But that's a one-day installation with no permits, no changes to the stuff in the building that's already there, no expensive interventions of any kind. So, it's a very light lift to go from your current existing school to a smart school that can deliver on these savings that we were just talking about. And of course, if you don't like what's happening, you can change it from a single pane of glass and see your entire school district’s energy picture, maintain control over all your systems. This is where through this dashboard you can set temperature schedules, analyze complaints on too hot, too cold. It's important to note that our customers report a sharp decrease in customer hot-cold complaints after the implementation of our software.
One of my favorite quotes of all time during a presentation I once attended was, “But without a funding source, a vision is just a hallucination.” So, while DemandEx is already quite low-cost, there are funding sources available for schools today via, in California, AB 841. And just through the CalSHAPE program; I captured the website there that you can look at. This is the first of many sources that are coming online. This type of software is widely recognized as essential in meeting local, state, national decarbonization goals. There are multiple funding sources that are being rolled out at scale for customers who are implementing these new kinds of control.
Tom, you want to take us home and wrap this up?
Tom Solar CFO 20:54
Yes. So ultimately, the goal here is saving time, money, energy, not necessarily in that order. But as John went through at length, the demand charges and time of use are something that you simply can't ignore. And it's so impactful on your bottom line. Eliminate the energy waste where you can, and ultimately, again, assuming a lot of you have a smaller team, fewer resources, what can be done to simplify the management of all these tools? If we go to the next slide …
John Powers 21:45
We'll go one more. This is just a quote from one of the folks we've talked to about the simplification; go ahead.
Tom Solar CFO 22:55
Our takeaways here are, number one, you've got to be able to understand your utility bill, having that a baseline, and what's your energy spend look like? John showed the complexity of a single bill. We can assume you have 5, 10, 30-plus campuses to manage and so, again, that baseline, that’s just a critical starting point. Number two, pick the low-hanging fruit first. We talked about some of those: LED lighting is a great starting point, making sure the HVAC systems are optimized, but really, do what you can with what you've got wherever you are, whether that be smart thermostats or whatever next steps you can take. And last, wink, wink, as we've indicated, there are other solutions out there, namely intelligent software — which again, to bring this home, a huge focus is on how you can maximize your controls and time within a day, cut down on energy or shift how that energy is used, and ultimately save the district money.
John Powers 23:09
Thank you, sir. We're going to pause there and stop for questions, and I'll do a couple of the housekeeping questions that just came in. Yes, of course, the presentation will be available at a later date. We will make the recording of this entire webinar available online. We'll be sending out a link by tomorrow on how you can access that. If you prefer to get just a copy of the deck, I can arrange that as well; again, hit up either John@extensibleenergy.com or Tom@solarcfo.com and we will take care of you on that. And then go ahead and put some questions either into the chat or to the Question and Answer panel and we will get going on those.
How much is DemandEx?
I have a question, predictable question, which was, “How much is DemandEx?” And I will take that offline. No problem. Anybody can hit me up and I will go through that. It's a fixed upfront fee and a monthly fee that typically depends on the size of the facilities. It’s anywhere between $200 and $500 for small to medium facilities, and it's as quoted for much larger facilities. Anything up to 100,000 square feet is $500 a month or less, and then everything over that we have to quote individually.
Does DemandEx save on energy, as well?
There's a question about, does this approach, does intelligent software save energy as well? I showed a lot of shifting capabilities. I showed the ability to shift away from peak and to shift away from on-peak time-of-use energy usage. But what we find a lot of the time is that unmanaged or poorly managed buildings are wasting a lot of energy during unoccupied hours, and a lot of just simple operating errors. So, we save many of our customers — and I want to be careful to say again, many of our customers already have building energy management systems or schedulable smart thermostats. A lot of those folks, we save very little on energy, because they've already taken care of a lot of the low-hanging fruit in terms of dumb mistakes. But yes, we save energy for many of the customers by making sure that hours of operation are respected and widening out the temperature bands during unoccupied hours — generally taking a lot more care to manage minute by minute when energy is used. The typical savings might be between 5% and 10% of energy, between 20% and 30% of demand.
CalSHAPE funding and HVAC upgrades
I have a question that says, “I see you mentioned CalSHAPE. I thought the focus of that was on HVAC ventilation and filtration upgrades and not on demand response. Am I wrong about that?” So, what I've talked about is not demand response. Demand response is typically a utility-driven program that responds to a signal from the utility or the grid operator. And of course, we've worked with such programs too. But demand charge management, controlling the usage patterns, actually does qualify for any program that is a controls upgrade. So, you can think of this as building energy controls, right? And a lot of the programs out there, including CalSHAPE, include incentives for upgrades on controls. There is a focus on ventilation in some of the specific awards that have been made under CalSHAPE because of all the COVID changes that are out there. And we've seen a lot of emphasis on ventilation and filtration come in, in parallel to — again, the funding and the crises don't always match, but we are qualified under a number of different state and utility program incentives.
Is DemandEx compatible with HVAC control systems?
I see one here that says, “With a one-day installation, is your system compatible with all HVAC control systems? Does this require a different installation to handle different control systems?” There are families of HVAC control systems; many of them use BACnet. And we just integrate our on-site DemandEx gateway and speak BACnet over the same network that the energy management system uses. So, the installation there is particularly straightforward because you don't have to replace thermostats. There are others: in smaller facilities, smaller schools often have manually operated dumb thermostats, it's just a rip and replace of dumb thermostats with smart thermostats. That's a little bit more involved but can still be done in one day in a small to medium facility. Then finally, there are folks who have — I'm just going to guess, the gentleman who's asking this question named himself Pelican — there are these systems that are between smart thermostats and building automation systems like those from Pelican wireless, who we really like. And we’re able to integrate cloud-to-cloud with some of those systems and have a project going in California schools with elegant thermostats now.
Can our school get off the demand charge rate entirely?
Let’s see, a question that says, “My school has 28 meters — 10 demand and 18 non-demand. Five of the 10-demand meters are right on the cusp of the 25 kW pole which triggers the demand metering. What percent above 25 kW pole can I attribute to solar reducing that peak?” Oh goodness, this is a great question, because pushing customers from above to below a demand threshold can be a phenomenal savings opportunity in all three of the investor-owned utilities. If you can push the demand from 26 kW down to below 25 kW, you can keep that particular account entirely on an energy-only rate where the solar might offset up to 100% of the energy charge. We use some sophisticated forecasting and control algorithms that for multiple customers, in and out of California, we've kept customers below a hard cap of a fixed number of kilowatts (each utility has something different; 25 is common). We definitely have seen that as a great opportunity for tighter demand control to be able to keep you on the rates you really want to be on that work very well with solar. To get any more detailed than that we'd have to look at the interval data from the demand meters or the on-demand meters that you're talking about. We typically work with a company called UtilityAPI that can get 15-minute interval data from any of the utilities in California in a day. We really love to dig into multiple accounts with multiple meters and analyze the usage patterns and see which ones can be kept below the threshold and which ones we can just reduce demand, and lower the charges that way.
Does DemandEx work with batteries?
Here's a question: “Our district already has solar at most of our sites and is currently looking into battery storage. If we go forward with battery, would there be any reasons to buy your software?” Well, yeah. First things first. Batteries are great. I drive a battery every day — my electric vehicle — we're big fans of batteries, and they are quite high capital cost upfront, and you really want to buy and operate the battery in a smart way. To buy it in a smart way, you want to get your loads under control first, so you're not buying a battery that's larger than necessary, and then you want to operate it in a way that makes use of good forecasts of what the whole building load is going to do and what the solar is going to do, so that you can optimize the charging and discharging of the battery for maximum savings. We've seen lots of batteries that operate quite foolishly and are really not saving the customer anything like what they could, just because the software that's driving the battery does not expect an unexpected jump in usage. I worked with a guy from one of the big research institutes that said the cheapest form of storage is better forecasting. What he means by that is you really want to combine any kind of investment in battery with an investment of getting your loads under better control and smarter dispatch rules for the battery, so we can definitely help with that.
Tom Solar CFO 33:53
John, if you scroll up in the chat, there was another question about performance-based billing.
Do you have a performance guarantee?
John Powers 34:00
Sure enough, “Do you do performance performance-based billing?” That is to say, do we provide a performance guarantee or performer no-fee? We absolutely do. We provide a performance guarantee that says we will always save you more than the software costs and we deliver quarterly savings reports and true that up annually. So yeah, we absolutely do all of what we just talked about on a performance basis.
Tom, do you want to talk for a minute about the decision criteria that you've seen in terms of how schools evaluate these kinds of energy investments, who's usually involved, and who needs to be convinced that this is a good idea?
Tom Solar CFO 35:02
A lot of these conversations, we'll start with, again, if the district has an energy manager, great — you're probably very progressive in your overall energy efficiency strategy. But again, for most, this conversation starts with a facilities director or something along those lines. They're the ones really doing the heavy lifting, the first round of analysis and whether or not that's meaningful for the district, and then that usually flows to the business office. Effectively, the assistant superintendent often is the key there. And what we’ve found, what we really like about Extensible, in comparison to some of the other heavy capital costs that you see with some of the other technologies, is: software-based, much easier to get passed through a board approval or some of those other procurement steps that have to take place in the public sector. So, software, SAAS, is key, and it provides a lot of flexibility and is generally very, very powerful as it relates to a lot of these organizations.
John Powers 36:26
The other thing to remember about that prior question about batteries, which again, I gotta say, I'm 100% big fan of batteries, but batteries are a major investment and a major project. There are permitting requirements, there are supply chain issues in the battery world that can make for long delays in that field. You need fire suppression. You need all these other things beyond just a battery, in order to get some of the same benefits that you can get at a tenth of the cost with smarter control with your existing loads. Batteries are great for resilience. They combine well with solar for making a portion of your school resilient to power failures, all kinds of benefits there. But in terms of just on-bill savings, the first step is always going to be to pick the low-hanging fruit first and that's, as you said, first and foremost do what everybody knows is smart on saving energy, which is LED retrofits and proper maintenance of the HVAC systems, and then get the loads under better control using software, whether it's ours or somebody else's — it's definitely much lower-hanging fruit than batteries for the same kind of benefits.
How much can a school save with DemandEx without installing solar?
Here’s a question that says, “How much you can DemandEx save our utility bill, if the school does not have or does not go solar?” None of this requires solar at all. We use the solar example because both Tom and I are enthusiasts on getting solar into more schools, but the load-shifting benefits accrue regardless of whether you do or don't have solar. Again, we can look at the 15-minute interval data and turn around an estimate of what we can save usually in a day. The savings typically are about 20% of demand and 5% to 10% of energy if there is no solar, and it's probably more like 30% of the demand if there is solar.
What types of buildings will get the most out of the DemandEx software?
“What types of buildings will get the most out of the software? Is there a certain size, utility … does it work in every building?” Again, you definitely want it to be a building that's big enough to justify a demand charge. There's kind of a lower bound there, and it works in any kind of building where the largest single load is highly variable and flexible. So that could be HVAC, which we've talked about a lot in today's discussion, but it could also be electric vehicle charging or stationary battery or anything else that has a flexible load. We typically are looking at facilities, not necessarily single buildings, but facilities that have a minimum electric utility bill of $20,000 to $30,000 a year and significant demand charges. It's not to say that the software won’t work in smaller buildings; it just rarely justifies the investment of time, energy, and effort when it's much smaller than that.
What kind of energy management training is needed?
“Tell us more about the management after it’s installed. What kind of training is needed?” Okay, the nice thing about software, in particular cloud-based web-based software, is that it looks and feels a lot like stuff you're already used to. We give training with every installation, usually to either a facilities manager or office manager. Anybody else who wants it can have a view of the entire district through a single pane of glass. We will train the assistant superintendent if he or she wants it. But usually, it's the facilities management team that wants to be able to send overrides when a particular zone is too warm or too cool, and to track savings to put in their reports back up to the superintendent. The training is all delivered in that same day as the installation. It's very straightforward. And it's familiar to anybody who has worked with schedules or in facilities before.
What happens if utility rates change or we decide to add solar or EV chargers?
Here's somebody who does not trust utilities. It's not bad to be careful. “What happens if changes happen in the future, utility rates change and we decide to add solar, or we decide to add EV chargers? Will you adjust for that?” The good news about the change in utility rates is that it takes years to push through a change in utility rates through the Public Utilities Commission. And it takes us minutes to push through a change in our optimization algorithm to take advantage of those rates. So, unless the utilities come up with an all-you-can-eat-for-free plan on electricity, it will always make sense to have software that can optimize your usage patterns around those rates. The example I gave assumes that demand charges continue to be the way they are, but there's no reason to believe that: demand charges are rising, not falling. The complexity of rates is increasing, not decreasing. There are real-time pricing proposals in front of the California Public Utilities Commission today that will make minute-by-minute optimization all the more critical in order to maximize savings. So, the changes on the utility side we track very closely. The changes in your facility, like adding new solar or adding new EV chargers, of course we will have to adjust for that in calculating the savings, but we can increase savings against what would have happened without our software by tracking those changes are at your site. If you add solar if, savings go up; if you add EV chargers, savings go up.
I'm going to check one more thing to make sure we're capturing stuff coming in both in the Q&A and in the chat. I think we are. I think we have answered most of the questions that are in here now. I'm going to give everybody 60 more seconds to throw us some more questions, but then we'll give you the rest of your hour back.
How does DemandEx work with Building Management Systems (BMS) and Smart Thermostats?
Somebody just put one in that says, “Can you tell us more about how DemandEx works with existing BMS’s, or smart thermostats?” All we need is basically information on what the whole building is using, which we get through an electrical meter and information about the temperatures in all the zones and a way to turn on and off heating and cooling in those zones.
So that last step is usually the domain of the existing BMS, or existing smart thermostat. Our software can speak any of the most common protocols for building energy management systems. BACnet is the standard in larger facilities. Where only wireless smart thermostats are available, we can speak Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, any of the things that those thermostats are already speaking. If those thermostats are already under good, centralized cloud-based control — and I named one vendor that does that — we can make a cloud-to-cloud integration that allows us to control those thermostats for better demand savings, as we've done in many cases. Those are the primary ways that we interact with existing systems. You don't have to replace your building energy management system. In many cases, you don't have to replace your thermostats, if we've already integrated with them. In the event that you have non-communicating, hand-operated thermostats, you will have to replace those, and we can help you do that.
Fantastic, so I'm going to give Tom the last word. I'm going to say thanks to everybody who attended. It's great to see people sticking it out. A lot of people still in the room. Give yourselves a round of applause for great questions and great attention. This webinar is being recorded and will be available on our website, and we will email everybody with instructions on how to access it. If anybody has any further questions after this, please feel free, Tom@SolarCFO.com, John@extensibleenergy.com, hit us up anytime. Tom, take us out.
Tom Solar CFO 46:34
Thanks, John. And again, thank you to everyone who took the time to attend; it’s a lot to take in and digest today. If there are questions, we'd love to hear from you — product-related or not, just in general, we love to talk with you all, we're enthusiasts about energy efficiency, and however we can support you, we will gladly do so. Thanks again. Have a great day.
Thanks very much.