What Is An Energy Audit?
An energy audit evaluates the energy consumption of a home, business or other organisation in order to determine how energy is currently used, and how energy use can be reduced or used more efficiently. The energy auditor will, as a general rule, look at:
Building envelope upgrades
Heating and cooling (HVAC) systems and controls
Building systems controls
Behavioural change opportunities
Co-generation or renewable energy generation options, and
Site specific energy efficiency opportunities
From this information the energy auditor will identify and quantify any potential savings that can be made, providing a plan to achieve these reductions.
Why Would You Get An Energy Audit?
Energy usage is not a fixed cost. The more you use, the more it costs you. For sites with large energy usage bills, the news that energy costs are predicted to substantially rise by 2015 is of great concern.
An energy audit gives businesses and organisations the information they need in order reduce their energy usage, translating into a reduction in both their electricity bill and carbon emissions.
The energy audit provides recommendations for site specific energy efficiency works to be undertaken, rated in order of effectiveness. The business or organisation can then make intelligent investment decisions, and once the energy efficiency works are implemented, will often achieve significant energy costs savings and carbon emissions reductions.
How To Select A Good Energy Auditor
There are a number of energy auditing companies out there, and differentiating between them is important to get the best outcomes for your organisation.
Experience counts in an energy audit, so ask for the resumes of those energy auditors who will be onsite. As energy auditing is a lot more than just recommending the use of energy efficient light bulbs, inexperienced energy auditors are more likely to miss energy efficiency opportunities or give suggestions that are ineffective. It takes years of learning, research and trial and error for an energy auditor to build up the necessary knowledge to identify the multitude of opportunities to save energy.
Ask for sample energy audits so that you can judge the quality of the report produced by that company. Increased interest from businesses and government in improving energy efficiency has lead to the start up of a number of energy auditing companies. The detail and quality of the reports produced by these various companies can be highly variable. Sample energy audits can help rank companies based on the quality of analysis they provide.
Get references for jobs that the energy auditor has done in the past. At the very least this ensures that the company has significant experience with conducting energy audits. If required, these references can also be used to provide an independent analysis of that company’s past performance – such as whether the report was detailed, accurate and finished in a timely manner.
What Do You Get In An Energy Audit Report?
A quality energy audit report will be compliant with the AS/NZ 3598:2000 standard for commissioning and conducting energy audits. The standard includes 3 levels of energy audit:
A Level 1 Energy Audit Report is an overview of the overall energy consumption of the site. It is conducted in order to determine whether energy use is reasonable or excessive when benchmarked against similar organisations and facilities. It provides initial benchmarks of the site so that the effect of energy efficiency measures can be tracked and evaluated. The energy audit report may be in the form of a desktop study; however the information given to, or gathered by, the energy auditor needs to be sufficient to enable the overall level of energy efficiency of the site to be determined.
A Level 2 Energy Audit Report surveys energy use to make a preliminary assessment of potential costs and savings. The energy audit report includes all the elements of a Level 1 energy audit, whilst also identifying the sources of energy to a site, the amount of energy supplied, and what the energy is used for. It also identifies areas where savings may be made, recommends measures to be taken, and provides a statement of costs, potential savings, and payback periods.
A Level 3 Energy Audit Report covers the requirements of a Level 1 and Level 2 energy audit and provides a comprehensive and detailed analysis of energy usage, the energy savings that can be made, and the cost of achieving those energy savings. It may cover the whole site or may concentrate on an individual item, such as a single industrial process or one of the services. The energy auditor may employ a specialist to carry out specific parts of an energy audit, or may need to install local metering and logging equipment to monitor energy use. The report from a Level 3 Audit often forms the justification for substantial investment by the owner or an Energy Performance Contract (EPC).
How To Use The Information In An Energy Audit Report
Undertaking an energy audit is only the first step when seeking to reduce energy use. A quality energy audit report will provide quantified recommendations that you can then act upon, giving you the guidance you need to be able to be able to plan energy efficient investments or upgrades.
The implementation phase then begins, where internal or external tradespeople make the necessary adjustments to building automation systems (BAS), conduct lighting upgrades or implement other energy efficiency works. Some companies that conduct the energy audit will also be able to assist with the energy efficiency implementation.
How To Measure Energy Audit Success
An important component when reducing energy use is measuring your success. Ensure you put in place energy monitoring capabilities, so you know that your energy efficiency works have achieved the desired result – actual reduced energy use. There are a number of energy monitoring systems available that can automatically monitor your consumption of electricity, gas and water, such as www.carbonrealtime.com.au. The data can then be graphed in such a way that energy �leaks� become immediately apparent, and can be rectified quickly.