Guest Blog Mervyn Bowden – why hire an energy manager?

I’ve read a lot of views recently in various media speculating as to the role of the Energy Manager – why do they exist? Having been one for three decades, […]

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I’ve read a lot of views recently in various media speculating as to the role of the Energy Manager – why do they exist?

Having been one for three decades, surely that shouldn’t be too difficult so let’s have a go…..

An Energy Manager is surely there to ensure that an organisation, of whatever size or shape, uses energy efficiently, renewably where possible and that it’s procured to meet the organisation’s budget and risk policy.

There used to be a maxim which stated that organisations should employ an Energy Manager for every £1m they spent on energy. Given that was at least 10 years ago, pre-energy market and taxation rises, a more meaningful update on that would probably be in the range hire one energy manager for every £5 – £10m. How does your organisation stack up here?

I’m not including “sustainability” or “FM” people who sometimes get accused of managing energy, no disrespect but they usually are focused on other things – I’m talking about energy specialists who can directly and indirectly influence their organisation’s consumption and cost of energy.

So how does the skill profile of an Energy Manager look ? Where should the emphasis be?

Here’s my hitlist:

I’d say they need to be highly numerate – able to monitor, measure and analyse lots of data. Similarly with financial data associated with both procurement and consumption. Brilliant at managing budgets and really understanding how they work for their organisation.

Probably technical in some ways to understand how buildings work and the relative impact of technologies on energy consumption. More technical the merrier in some ways but by no means essential – they can always employ someone else to do that bit.

Proficient in law relating to ‘Elf an Safety, contract management – both for energy supply and efficiency schemes – probably Power Purchase Agreements, all related legislative requirements, endless detailed “consultation documents” and lots more……

Persuasive – putting business cases together which secure the investment cash they want to spend. Knowing which of their colleagues and others, they need to effect their efficiencies and budgetary savings. This is very important to prevent being dragged into the mire of bureaucracy that has developed around the subject !

Communicative and ready to share their findings and wisdoms with others – that means using all types of media from videos to support awareness campaigns to speaking at conferences to persuading the CFO to agree to their spending plans.

Finally add to all those skills that they need to suffer!

Usually enthusiastically, constant updating and maintain awareness of an ever-changing world where energy costs can double in minutes, planning can be useless, risks are significant to budgets, targets, organisation’s reputation……..need I go on ?

So what’s their top skill likely to be ? – for me it would be the ability to challenge everything and anything related to ways of buying and using energy coupled with the tenacity to refuse to accept a “no” or a sub-standard answer.

Popularity should be viewed as unexpected in this role.

But at the end of the day it’s all about figures so let’s do the sums:

Simples – If your energy cost is £5m and you save 10% as a result of your Energy Manager’s efforts that’s £500,000 a year, at 20% £1m and 30% (which some companies are doing !) it’s £1.5m. Bigger budgets, more expensive energy and taxation will scale these savings up even further.

Compare that to the cost of employing an Energy Manager of maybe £70,000 a year and you’d have to be completely crazy not to be recruiting tomorrow!!!

Coming next, the great skills shortages in energy…………what are we to do ????


Mervyn Bowden is the Managing Director of Intuitative Energy Solutions Ltd.