Skip to main content
Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen Blog

Demand side management uncovered

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 1 July 2013 at 9:18 am

Demand side management of energy is not a new concept. It’s been around since the energy crises of the 1970s and refers to the management of consumer demand for energy. You may know it is energy efficiency or simply reducing your use of energy. However, it has become more relevant than ever in recent years.

Energy and business

If you run a business, the idea of any interference in the way you manage your energy may cause concern. After all, you rely on energy for lighting, business equipment and manufacturing plants.

But demand side management or energy efficiency doesn’t mean the government or energy companies are intent on making unilateral decisions to cut the electricity and gas you receive. The idea is more subtle than this. It involves shifting the use of energy through technology and incentives. By taking advantage of these, you could improve the way you control energy use and save money at the same time.

Energy costs

In business, one of your main operational costs is energy. Electricity and gas consumption for offices and other premises eats into your profitability.

To make matters worse, you may be using much of this energy unnecessarily.  According to British Gas, the average UK business wastes 46% of its electricity by leaving lights and appliances on when no one is around.

Energy demand side management and technology

The technological aspect of demand side management can put you in control of your energy costs.  For example, most new commercial property in the UK now comes with a BMS (building management system).

A BMS links the energy use of your heating, lighting, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) systems to a computer server. Through the server, you can control up to 84% of your building’s energy. You achieve this by setting energy parameters to match your business needs.

You don’t have to occupy a new building to benefit. You can retrofit a BMS installation in older properties.

You may also have particular energy needs such as temperature and lighting control. By using sensors, a mini BMS solution lets you monitor your appliances and keep energy consumption as low as possible.

Energy management platform

You can improve an existing BMS still further with an energy management platform. These often come with real-time reports of your energy usage based on your building’s separate utilities.

Incentives for modifying energy use

The UK government is keen to use demand side management techniques to modify energy use. Politicians are aware they cannot necessarily cut overall consumption but they want to encourage businesses to switch to off-peak energy. This would reduce the need to build more power plants and to expand energy networks.

Your business, of course, may work set hours. Modifying peak-time energy use may seem impractical unless you can initiate changes in working patterns. Nonetheless, the UK’s Low Carbon Networks Fund of £500m aims to consider these issues and promote demand side management solutions.

About the author: Paul Hutchens is founder and director of Eco2Solar, which installs solar systems around the UK.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter


2 comments - read them below or add one

Paul Hutchens

Paul Hutchens from Eco2SolarComment left on: 1 July 2013 at 3:07 pm

Dear Catchercradle

That is a good question. The grid or district network operator (DNO) requires that multiple installations apply for permission to install PV systems or if they are beyond a certain size.

So if you want to install a system bigger than 3.68kWp on a single phase or more than 1 installation in the same area then the DNO needs to assess its capacity in that area.

That will not help of course if the homeowners decide independently to install on their homes at the same time; but this does not seem to have presented a major problem so far.


report abuse


catchercradleComment left on: 1 July 2013 at 12:04 pm



ensuring computers, lights etc. are all off at night would clearly increase the gap between peak and off peak consumption. The street where I live has five houses with pv installed, most of whose inhabitants are out at work when generation is at it't maximum.


If the whole street were to have pv fitted with a minimum of 2kw/house we would be producing something over half a megawatt at peak. How would the grid cope with this? If the whole of the village were to be fitted we would produce over 5megawatts. How much scope does this have for ofsetting industries use which peaks during the day when many are out at work?


report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.