Home Energy The Budderfly effect

The Budderfly effect

Time is money. So is electricity.

The appetite for energy is growing increasingly insatiable, with smartphones, tablets and laptops getting daily charges and businesses with even the most basic technology setups needing power for servers, backup servers and dozens of desktop computers. The ballooning cost of wattage makes being plugged in a costly addiction in corporate America.

Budderfly L.L.C., a Shelton-based energy management company, offers technology for businesses to keep a keen eye — perhaps even an Orwellian eye — on how an office consumes power. Ken Buda, the company’s vice president of operations, said a granular understanding of how energy is being used isn’t a matter of Big Brother, but rather of big savings.

David Eldridge and Ken Buda of Budderfly L.L.C.
David Eldridge and Ken Buda of Budderfly L.L.C.

“If you walk into your office and flip on your light switch, most people don’t know if it’s a dime or a dollar in cost,” Buda said. “We can give Ken a report and say, ‘last month, you used about $150 of energy in your office and these are things you can do to curtail that use.’”

Many business management systems provide limited metrics and control of energy consumption, Buda said. Recently, he spoke with a representative from a Massachusetts university who told him there was one energy meter for the entire campus. In such cases, even motion-sensor or timed lighting would reduce consumption significantly, but it’s difficult to find a solution when you can’t even be sure what the problem is, or where it is originating from, he said.

Budderfly, which received its second U.S. patent last week, has hardware fitted into specific light switches and power outlets that communicate with cloud-based software. Management can actually show an employee his or her monthly wattage consumption numbers and how they compare to those of other employees.

It’s not a matter of being punitive, he said, but making people mindful of small behaviors: Sharing these statistics could mean employees begin to turn off their computer monitors during lunch or shut down their desktop computers when leaving for the day. A forward-thinking company, Buda suggested, might even tie a bonus to the largest reduction in energy consumption by an employee.

For companies that use large amounts of energy, or which employ thousands of workers, small behavioral changes can have a large impact on the bottom line. “It’s the case of a little bit adding a lot,” he said. An energy management system, if used effectively, could reduce consumption by as much as 10 to 30 percent, Buda said. For each dollar spent in energy reduction, three dollars will be saved on energy generation, he said, which is to say nothing of the environmental benefits of limiting use.

Budderfly’s hardware, which sells in the $50 range per unit, is unique in that it fits into existing light switches and power outlet settings. The company also manufactures a power strip, sold at a retail price of $80. Its devices communicate through existing building wiring and cloud technology and so do not require rewiring to operate properly.

Using the company’s software and mobile apps, a user can not only monitor consumption but remotely turn off lights, which can account for as much as 30 percent of an office’s overall energy use. Users can also receive notifications when an office exceeds a kilowatt threshold. Using a per outlet setup, a user could even determine remotely if lobby televisions were left on overnight or turn off from home watercoolers that are still getting juice after hours.

Budderfly launched in 2007. Its website is budderfly.com.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here