|Utility Accounting Software & Services|
Frequently Asked Questions
General Utility Accounting Questions
Both Energy Accounting and Utility Accounting represent a systematic way of recording, analyzing, and reporting energy and other utility costs and usage on a regular basis. Originally, software for this purpose tended to track only energy services (which can be converted to "British Thermal Units") such as electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, etc. As a result, it was called Energy Accounting software. As software has evolved and "non-energy" utility services such as water, sewer, and garbage were added, the software and the process became known by the broader term "Utility Accounting".
The Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) software are full-featured utility accounting packages that have development roots back to 1984 - more than 30 years now - and include both energy and "non-energy" services types.
The Utility Manager and The Energy Center are two independent full-featured utility accounting software products. The Utility Manager is software that is installed on your network behind your firewall. The Energy Center, on the other hand, is 100% web-based, accessible from any browser or mobile device.
For additional information on how Utility Manager and The Energy Center differ, see Compare Utility Manager and The Energy Center.
Simple spreadsheets are fine for just recording the information on your utility bills, but when many dozens, hundreds, or thousands of utility bills need to be tracked, spreadsheets quickly become the wrong tool for the job. Database applications such as Utility Manager (for your network) or The Energy Center (100% web-based) provide the needed horsepower to process and analyze larger numbers of bills. The programs have been specifically designed over the last 30 years to streamline the data entry process and ensure the accuracy of the utility account numbers, dates, and billing details entered.
Moreover, both programs' flexible reporting and graphing options, ability to create reporting groups and subgroups, billing period proration, and avoided cost reporting are difficult at best to replicate within spreadsheets ... especially in a manner that's easily understandable to other people within your organization. Utility Management Services specializes in converting "home grown" tracking spreadsheets into Utility Manager or The Energy Center which allows you to preserve the investment of time and effort you've made in your spreadsheets.
Both Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) can often pay for themselves through more careful monitoring of your utility usage and cost. A powerful billing audit feature can analyze your utility bills against the history of each account through a series of nearly two dozen checks designed to flag abnormal usage and costs, overlapping service periods, duplicate bills, etc. Many Utility Manager users have caught and recovered many thousands of dollars in utility billing errors by using Utility Manager's billing audit feature.
The Utility Manager and The Energy Center Software Products
The Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) are full featured software programs for tracking and managing the utility bills your organization receives from utility companies. They are designed for any organization (e.g., public agencies, property management companies, retail stores) that receives significant numbers of utility bills each month. They can address the needs of both facility managers/energy managers as well as accounting personnel. Utility services that can be tracked include electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, trash, recycling, and many others.
Using Utility Manager or The Energy Center can greatly improve your organization's ability to track and analyze utility bill usage and cost, improve the efficiency of processing utility bills for payment, help locate potential billing errors, and target your utility conservation efforts.
The Utility Manager is available in two different versions: Utility Manager Pro and Utility Manager Server.
Utility Manager Pro is a full featured utility accounting program that is installed on your network. The program uses Microsoft Access tables as its underlying data warehouse, but owning Microsoft Access is not required to operate Utility Manager Pro. UM Pro includes a 5-concurrent user software license and one year of technical support. It may be used for tracking up to 1,000 site locations and up to 2,000 utility accounts. If you have more sites and accounts than this, consider using the Utility Manager Server version.
Utility Manager Server is also installed on your network and offers more advanced features and uses Microsoft SQL Server as its underlying data warehouse. MS SQL Server is required to operate UM Server but is not included as part of the software package. UM Server includes a 25-concurrent user software license and one year of technical support. It may be used for tracking many thousands of sites and utility accounts.
The Energy Center is a full featured utility accounting program that is 100% web-based. Access the program from any browser or mobile device. The program includes an unlimited concurrent user software license and one year of technical support. It may be used for tracking many thousands of sites and utility accounts.
For more information, please see Compare Utility Manager and The Energy Center
Both Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) are comprehensive in their ability to track utilities and include a wide variety of different types of utility services which may be tracked. Energy services that may be tracked include:
Other utility services which may be tracked include:
Need to track other services such hazardous waste, bio-fuels, reclaimed water, or telephones? We can easily make modifications to track these and other services as well!*
* currently available in Utility Manager only
All data entered into Utility Manager resides safely behind your organization's firewall on your servers. Moreover, you both own and control access to the database and the information contained in the database.
The Utility Manager software (for your network) can range in price from a low of $4,995 for the Utility Manager Pro package to $14,995 for Utility Manager Server. Both versions of the Utility Manager software offer several advanced software modules for an additional cost. Both versions of Utility Manager are installed on your network, behind your organization's firewall.
The Energy Center software (100% web-based) starts at $4,995 per year, depending on the size of your organization. Several advanced modules are available for an additional cost.
For a review of pricing, discounts, and other "at a glance" information on Utility Manager and The Energy Center, please see Compare Utility Manager and The Energy Center.
Yes! Ease of use is considered one of Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center's (100% web-based) great strengths. Both programs have highly intuitive "point & click" menus that most people quickly master. It's easy to navigate between different areas of each program and complete the task at hand, whether that's setting up your database, adding utility bills, auditing your utility bills, completing reports, and so on.
Both programs are powerful and flexible in allowing you to import your utility bills and the screens for manual data entry have been streamlined to minimize the time it takes to record new bills.
The reports menus offer users an easy selection of many different report types designed for different needs, including both graphical and tabular reports. Users can design their own custom reports as well. A "Monthly Reports" screen allows you to save your favorite reports for easy access the next time you need them.
Since The Energy Center is 100% web-based, you can access your utility accounting database from any browser or mobile device.
Utility Manager ships with a very extensive printed Users Guide which is also available online through the Help menu.
Finally, live technical support is always available during normal business hours should you need it.
Utility Manager has highly intuitive "point & click" menus that most people quickly master.
The main tasks are divided into the following menu areas:
The Utility Manager is a software application that resides on your local computer or network and behind your firewall. The database itself is most typically put on a local file server in a location that all Utility Manager users have access to.
The Energy Center is a hosted web application so your data resides on a host server. The program is accessible from any browser or mobile device.
Utility Management Services was established in 1982 - more than 34 years ago - to provide energy efficiency assistance to cities, counties, school districts, and businesses of all types. In the early 1980's, UMS was hired by the State of California to do the first review of competing energy accounting software packages. Needless to say, energy and utility accounting software has evolved tremendously since then! Also since that time, UMS has unmatched experience in building and maintaining utility accounting databases, and in supporting hundreds of customers in using utility accounting software tools to better track and analyze their utility bills as well as target and measure the success of their energy efficiency improvements.
Want to contact us? Call 707-778-9930 or 415-488-4652 or send an email to info [at] utilityaccounting [dot] com.
Utility Management Services offers both on-site training as well as online training in using the Utility Manager software.
On-site training includes one or two full days of training in managing and maintaining your utility accounting database and running the many types of reports and graphs offered.
Online training typically includes 2 sessions of 2 hours each: The first session focuses on key aspects of data entry and maintenance of the database structure and billing information ("Getting Data into your Utility Accounting software"). The second session focuses on key aspects of reports and graphs and analysis capabilities ("Getting Data out of your Utility Accounting software").
Data Entry and Importing
Both Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) have been designed over the last 30 years to ensure manual data entry is as streamlined as possible. Here are some of the built-in methods for easing manual data entry of utility bills:
Absolutely. Both Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) products allow you to set up your data entry templates so that your screen can "mimic" the exact cost and usage details shown on the bill itself and display them in the same order they appear on the bill. The template carries forward every month to facilitate fast data entry. If the cost and usage items then change on a later bill... no problem! Both programs allow you to easily change the template. You can add new line items, delete line items, or change the order or terminology of the line items. For more information, see "Customize your entry screens".
Yes. Both Utility Manager and The Energy Center are powerful and flexible in their ability to import electronic billings obtained from your utility vendors. Utility Manager ships with 6 import standard import formats for electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, and garbage. UMS also offers completely integrated "custom import formats" that allow Utility Manager to carefully interpret electronic billing information contained in vendor billing spreadsheets and import it into the Utility Manager database. The "billing determinants" such as account and meter numbers, service period dates, line item definitions, usage values, costs values, and so on are all brought into Utility Manager electronically, quickly, and accurately. The Energy Center allows users themselves to create such "custom import formats" for importing electronic utility bills.
Absolutely. Not only does the Utility Manager software automatically check your data entry while it's being entered, the program offers extensive utility bill auditing capabilities. For more information, see "Establish Audit Rules".
Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) offer a large variety of different types of reports and graphs for different purposes.
Yes! Many comparison reports and graphs are available that rank facilities based on the common parameters of energy use per square foot, energy cost per square foot, energy use per square foot per heating degree day, etc. Facilities can also be compared and ranked based on a defined "production unit" such as "students", "hours of use", "widgets produced", etc., that you may also choose to track.
Yes! Both Utility Manager and The Energy Center offer full-featured, integrated Advanced Cost Avoidance modules to allow great power and versatility in the calculation of weather-adjusted energy savings and cost avoidance. To account for the effect of weather conditions on utility consumption, Utility Manager looks at the impact of two weather-related factors in addition to changes in square footage and rates: cooling degree days (CDD) and heating degree days (HDD). Both monthly and daily weather data are easily downloaded into UM and updated monthly. Utility Manager then uses sophisticated linear regression analysis to examine the relationship between weather and energy usage at each location. This analysis ensures that the effects of weather are accurately taken into account when comparing the current level of energy use to an earlier (or "baseline") period. The Energy Center has expanded on these capabilities by offering multi-variable linear regression to incorporate additional variables. The Energy Center's Advanced Cost Avoidance methodology meets IPMV protocol standards.
While most users of Utility Manager find their reporting needs very effectively addressed by Utility Manager's pre-defined reports, the program also offers users the ability to create and save custom reports. Saved custom reports can be used again and again and like all reports in Utility Manager, run on various levels and time periods. Also like most other reports, custom reports can be exported for use in Excel or saved to a PDF file.
Absolutely. A great deal of effort has gone into making it easy to get data out of both Utility Manager (for your network) and The Energy Center (100% web-based) beyond simply printing a report. There are three primary ways data can be exported to other applications:
Exporting reports: Once a report has been generated in Utility Manager or The Energy Center using the various selection criteria offered, the report itself can be exported out in a number of ways:
The Energy Center's reports can also be exported to Word or can be emailed.
Exporting billing data: Utility Manager also lets users export the raw billing data in the system as well. The program offers several pre-defined formats, allows user-defined formats, and allows users to select the account(s) included, the date range included, and other settings as well.
Exporting Accounts Payable data: With the optional "AP Link" feature, Utility Manager can also be custom-programmed to output billing data in the precise format required by a customer's Accounts Payable system.
Paying Utility Bills
Many organizations use the Utility Manager software to electronically "feed" their accounts payable system.
When utility bills are received by an organization, it's often the case that someone in the facilities or energy management area enters them into a spreadsheet or some other tool to evaluate the energy performance of the facilties and someone else from the accounts payable area enters the information from the exact same bills into the accounts payable system. With Utility Manager's optional "AP Link" feature, the need for duplicate data entry can be eliminated.
Utility Manager stores accounting codes along with all the utility billing data. The custom-programmed AP Link allows Utility Manager to export out both the billing data and the appropriate accounting codes in the format required by your AP system. We've worked with Oracle, PeopleSoft, IFAS, EDEN, SAP, YARDI, JD Edwards, and many other AP systems.
Having Utility Manager feed your AP system doesn't mean that you lose any control over how you process bills; it means you won't have to manually enter those bills into the AP system.
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