Small measures can have huge impacts. 

We all know this now. Our world has been turned upside down by the scrap of genetic material called the COVID-19 virus. 

Can microscopic measures also have positive outcomes?  Can tiny scraps of code also make the world better? 

Yes. I believe they can. Let me give you an example.

We know the world needs to tackle the carbon emissions that are disrupting our planet’s climate. We also know that burning fossil fuels is the major contributor to these carbon emissions.

What is holding us back from acting to improve this situation? 

Knowledge, for one. 

To take effective action, we first need to know how – and when – we use energy. 

The fossil fuels we harness in various forms are delivered to us by utilities and energy suppliers. So, knowledge begins with being able to understand the information on our utility bills. For the vast majority of energy users however, utility bill information is hard to access and hard to understand. This must change. 

Company executives do not have – in fact they have never had – an easy way to measure and manage their companies’ energy use. Energy consumption data is not made transparent. It is not easily reported internally, to make people aware and accountable. What cannot be measured cannot be managed. Without that knowledge, how can they be expected to manage their carbon emissions?

At 360 Energy, we work in over 23 states and 8 provinces throughout North America. In every jurisdiction, we capture utility data so our customer executives and site based energy teams know how much they are paying, what they are paying for, and how much are they consuming. 

From experience, I can tell you there is a significant cost to capture monthly bill data, check and correct input errors, check revisions and manage utility bill errors. Additionally, there is the cost of software development and report preparation. All these steps are required to help corporate leaders drive action and accountability throughout their organizations. It all adds up. To launch energy management in a company costs thousands of dollars annually. 

Don’t get me wrong. Investments in energy management pay for themselves many times over. 

When energy consumers properly use their utility billing data, their annual consumption effortlessly drops by at least 5%. But many businesses still consider the cost of entry is too high. 

Imagine instead, a tiny piece of code – a Quick Response (QR) Code to capture an accurate collection of data from utility bills. A QR code on each printed or electronic bill would enable apps and algorithms, developed by the market, to easily upload information directly into useable analytics tools. 

A QR Code would provide managers with critical utility data more easily, cheaply, and quickly than the time-consuming means required today.

In 2018, over $3 Trillion in financial transactions were enabled by QR Codes. The open source software that generates QR Codes is readily available. The QR Code is a safe, secure and effective way of providing a universal utility data standard across North America. 

My plea to political leaders is this: Implement an open and universal utility bill QR code to report all monthly utility data to energy consumers.  

A QR code on every utility bill is a simple and elegant solution.  The world would more easily, cheaply and effectively manage energy use and more easily, cheaply and effectively tackle climate change.  

Every energy consuming business would be able to easily collect, capture, and analyze their energy use. They could start making measurable carbon reduction changes – immediately and effectively. 

This digital code removes the key barrier to action. 

The QR utility bill is the tiny code, the small measure, the microscopic but mighty action that will move the world forward on climate. 


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