Budget forecasts

Gridium uses historical data from your buildings to forecast future energy use and costs. However, the past isn't a perfect guide to the future. You can use the Gridium budget forecast as is, without further modification, or you can treat it as a starting point onto which you can layer further planning assumptions. This guide will help you understand the forecast and make any desired updates.

To adjust your budget forecast, download it in spreadsheet form. The spreadsheet is set up to allow you to adjust a variety of inputs, including:

  • Anticipated changes in operational energy use
  • Anticipated utility rate changes

If you have questions about how to use the budget forecast, we are happy to help. Please contact us at support@gridium.com.

Base forecast

The starting point for your budget is a set of base forecasts for every meter in your portfolio. The base forecast predicts future use based on past use, and then multiplies the predicted use by historical rates to derive a set of monthly budget figures.

The base forecast uses whatever historical data is available to predict future use. Even in the case that a meter has a short billing history, we extrapolate that history forward. Shorter billing histories may lead to reduced forecast accuracy.

In most cases, we have an extensive history of bill and interval data to draw from. A more complete data set allows us to adjust for unusual weather, forecast long-term trends, correct outliers, fill data gaps, and perform other forms of clean-up to derive a more reliable budget forecast.

Even with high-quality data, however, forecasting is imperfect. A large change in occupancy, for example, could affect your ongoing costs in ways that are hard to foresee. 

To help you review your budget for accuracy, we provide information about the quality of the input data used to generate the budgets. We strongly recommend reviewing this information and making any necessary adjustments.

Budget adjustments

Anticipated use changes

You may be aware of upcoming operational changes, such as a large tenant moving in or a capital upgrade project, that is likely to affect your energy use. 

You can incorporate these anticipated changes into your budget via the following steps:

  1. Download the spreadsheet version of the budget by clicking the “Download” button on the “Budget forecast” page.
  2. Open the spreadsheet and navigate to the “Expected Use Change” worksheet. This worksheet contains a row for each meter in the budget and a column for each month.
  3. For any month in which you expect use to differ from Gridium’s base forecast, enter the expected percent change. 

For example, if you expect an increase in occupancy in August will drive a 6% increase in energy use, enter a value of 6% in the corresponding spreadsheet cell. A value of zero indicates no change from Gridium’s base forecast. A negative value indicates a drop from the base forecast.

Note that changes are cumulative over time. In our example, the 6% increase in August will also affect use in September and every month thereafter. If you expect the increase to be temporary, then you need to indicate a corresponding decrease in energy use in a future month.

Anticipated rate changes

Utilities typically update their rates at least once per year, and often several times per year. Gridium maintains a database of anticipated utility rate changes. We automatically apply these predicted rate changes to your budget forecast, but you can substitute your own rate change factors in the downloadable version of the forecast.

The steps for doing so are nearly identical to the steps for entering anticipated use changes:

  1. Download the spreadsheet version of the budget by clicking the “Download” button on the “Budget forecast” page.
  2. Open the spreadsheet and navigate to the “Expected Rate Change” worksheet. This worksheet contains a row for each meter in the budget and a column for each month.
  3. For any month in which you expect the rates to change, enter the expected percent change. A value of zero indicates no change from Gridium’s base forecast.

Note that Gridium provides default rate change factors, although you are free to modify these. Like use change figures, rate changes are cumulative: a rate change in one month will affect all following months.

The ability to add your own rate change factors is mainly useful if you contract for third-party supply and have advance knowledge of upcoming price changes. Unless this describes your situation, you may find it easier to use Gridium’s default rate change figures.

Download format

The downloadable version of the Gridium budget forecast contains a set of factors that are combined to create a budget:

  • Baseline monthly use
  • Baseline monthly rate
  • Anticipated changes in use
  • Anticipated changes in rates

By adjusting the anticipated use and rates, you can fine tune the budget to best reflect your expected future costs.

Each worksheet in the budget is described in more detail below.

Overview

This worksheet contains instructions for using the budget download and a list of data issues that you should consider when assessing the budget output. Data issues do not necessarily indicate a problem with the generated budget. Rather, they represent situations that we recommend you review.

Possible messages include the following:

“We were unable to generate a forecast for this meter.”

In cases where meters have extremely limited historical data, we may be unable to generate a forecast.

“Baseline is missing billing data for X days out of 365.””

This message indicates that we don’t have a full year of billing data to use as the basis for a forecast. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but you may want to review the output to ensure it matches your expectation for the meter in question.

“Most recent billing data is X days old.”

We alert you to significant lags in the billing data used to generate a forecast. Older data may not reflect recent operational changes in your building.

“Baseline includes unusually high or low bills.”

This warning indicates that your recent billing history includes outliers. We typically suppress outliers when generating a budget forecast, but It is difficult to know for certain whether outliers represent one-time events or are likely to recur in the future.

“Baseline includes bills with negative cost and/or use.”

Negative values on bills usually represent either bill adjustments or net energy metering. In either case, these charges tend to be unpredictable and hard to forecast accurately.

Budget Forecast

This worksheet contains the final budget numbers, broken down by meter and calendar month. We don’t recommend modifying the formulas in this sheet. Doing so could cause errors in your budget calculations. Instead, modify the inputs found on other sheets.

Use Forecast

This worksheet contains a forecast of use, broken down by meter and calendar month. The data in this worksheet is purely for informational purposes. It allows you to see how future energy use will compare to past energy use. 

Expected Use Change

This worksheet allows you to capture any anticipated changes to operational energy use. See the “Anticipated energy use” section for detailed instructions.

Utility Rate Change Forecast

This worksheet allows you to capture anticipated utility rate changes. See the “Anticipated rate change” section for detailed instructions.

Year-On-Year Cost Change

This worksheet compares the budget forecast to your historical costs to help you understand how your costs are expected to change. These figures are useful for budget validation. Review them to make sure that the budget matches your common-sense expectation for next year’s costs. If you see anything unexpected, you may want to adjust the budget inputs.

Year-On-Year Use Change

This worksheet compares the use forecast to your historical use to help you understand how use is expected to change. This comparison is useful for validating the budget forecast.

Baseline Cost

Baseline cost figures are provided for comparison purposes. They are used to derive the percentages in the “Year-On-Year Cost Change” worksheet.

It is important to note that the baseline cost is not simply a chronological history of your utility bills. The budget forecast extends more than twelve months into the future. The baseline represents the most recently available twelve months of historical bills, rearranged so that they line up with the budget forecast by calendar month. We also fill in any gaps in the historical baseline to the extent possible.

Baseline Use

Baseline use figures are provided for comparison purposes. They are used to derive the percentages in the “Year-On-Year Use Change” worksheet. As with the baseline cost figures, the baseline use numbers represent a constructed baseline in which each forecast month is paired with the most recent relevant historical baseline data.

0 replies on “Budget forecasts”

You may also be interested in...

Turning off MFA for SDG&E

This new feature of SDG&E’s website will cause more headaches for commercial customers than it will solve.