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Looking for Buried Treasure? (Hint. It’s in Your Utility Bill.)

“X marks the spot”.

The words still capture my imagination.

When I was a kid, “X marks the spot” was the clue to buried treasure. The “X” on a map always played a pivotal role in stories of adventure, discovery and overcoming adversity.

Even though I’ve grown up, these stories are still relevant for me. Did you know for example, a map to buried treasure is delivered to your organization every month? And depending on how your company uses and spends money on energy/water, that map holds the key to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

That map is your utility bill.

If it were easy to find buried treasure from a utility bill, everyone would be doing it. But it’s not easy. Turning that bill into a map for buried treasure takes effort and planning. There is no, “X marks the spot” to show you where to find the information that will unlock energy cost savings.

But that could change. A mark could easily be created using something familiar to us all – a QR Code.

QR Codes are used in many industries. Last year, over $3 Trillion in financial transactions were enabled by QR Codes. The open source software to generate QR Codes is readily and widely available.

How would it work? The QR Code would embed all critical and needed information on your printed or electronic bill. Apps and algorithms developed by the market would upload the information directly from your databases. In no time you could be on the hunt to avoid and reduce energy costs following the clues the QR Code gives you.

Technical experts promote the idea that granular (hourly interval) data is the foundation of energy management. In actual fact, the essential component is that senior managers gain energy oversight. They must have a map that gives them a straightforward view of their organization’s monthly energy cost and consumption numbers with variations to budget. The data they need to track and understand their energy, water and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions costs can be easily accessed through a QR Code on their utility bills.

Recently, we presented this idea to the Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks. I proposed that the Ontario government require a QR Code on all utility bills. This requirement would enable energy users to automatically upload comprehensive monthly utility billing data. The information would be formatted into easy to understand dashboards for analysis against budgets. Every company in the province that uses energy would immediately gain greater management control over their building operations, vehicles and facilities.

By being the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement QR Codes on utility bills, a Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan could show quick wins for climate leadership. A QR Code would not only help energy consumers reduce, track and report on GHG emissions. It would enable the Ontario government and its related entities do so as well.

Every utility customer, every manager, every workplace team member can find buried treasure in their utility bill. Thousands of companies just like yours, could start the hunt for energy cost and environmental reductions. A QR Code would guide us on our quest.

This approach doesn’t require additional regulations, higher taxes or subsidies.

“X” on a map. QR Code on a bill. Both point to uncovering hidden treasure for those who use them.
Let me know if this quest captures your imagination too: david.arkell@360energy.net

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