Monitoring technology lets small businesses control power use

An end-to-end energy management system from EnTouch Controls is designed in use in restaurants, retail stores and small offices.

Often, when you read energy-efficiency success stories, the businesses behind them are the biggest of the big.

That's because there aren't as many effective energy management tools for smaller companies, especially those that don't necessarily own the building they use as office or retail space. One supplier that does explicitly focus on small and midsize businesses (SMBs) is EnTouch Controls.

EnTouch, which is based in Richardson, Texas, just was awarded $2 million in Series A venture financing late last year. The company develops and sells an end-to-end system that lets small-business owners monitor electricity consumption in restaurants, retail stores, convenience stores or small offices. The latest addition to the line is the GM8 Universal Energy Monitor, which works in tandem with the EnTouch Energy Management Systems (EMS).

The Universal Energy Monitor is a wireless energy sensor that reports electricity consumption on up to eight branch circuits. The technology reports that information, along with data on phase voltages, power factors and other variables to the EnTouch EMS. The EMS itself is basically a replacement for a company's existing thermostats that lets managers more directly control heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The technology is managed via a Wi-Fi network and it offers maintenance alerts when there is an issue or something that should be a cause for attention.

EnTouch Controls pitches the simplicity of its system as one big benefit for smaller companies.

"The system has shown users a savings of 20 percent or more on energy bills, which adds up to thousands of dollars in annual savings per facility," said EnTouch Controls CEO Greg Fasullo. "By simplifying the monitoring and reporting, our customers capture these savings quickly and stay in control year after year, managing the cost of their energy."

The pricing for the GM8 component starts at $250; pricing for an installed EnTouch system starts at approximately $1,000. The company believes that the energy management system can pay for itself in about one year, in electricity cost savings.