What You Need to Know About an Energy Audit
The Need to Know About Energy Audits
With rising energy costs, it makes good business sense to look at your facility’s energy usage to see where you can decrease your energy costs.
This is where an energy audit becomes a valuable asset to your business.
Even if you’ve had an energy audit in the past, it may be time to reassess. Aging equipment could be contributing to energy usage inefficiency. New energy-efficient solutions may be available to help reduce your energy consumption.
An energy audit aims to determine where, when, why, and how energy is used in a facility and identify opportunities to improve efficiency.
Energy audits are generally conducted in either of two ways:
- In a whole-building approach, the energy auditor examines the building
envelope, building systems, operations and maintenance procedures, and building
schedules. The whole building audit provides a complete picture of energy savings opportunities at your facility.
- Energy audits targeted to specific systems (i.e., lighting or heating, ventilation and air conditioning). This approach won’t yield the most energy savings but can be used if you have limited funds to invest.
Working within your available budget, the energy auditor will work with you to develop your project goals and help you determine the scope of the audit most beneficial to you.
Engaging building staff (including facility managers, operations, and maintenance staff) in the audit process encourages ownership of building maintenance and ongoing energy efficiency activities.
Building staff can provide vital information on building and operating conditions during the physical review of equipment and systems. This information helps to identify energy-saving opportunities. Often the energy auditor can identify changes that building staff can implement immediately.
The cost of an audit varies by location, facility size, and level of detail.
An industry rule of thumb is that the energy audit cost doesn’t exceed 10% of your annual utility bill. Since there are fixed costs associated with the audit, the size of your facility will determine the validity of this rule of thumb.
Although an important factor in selecting an energy auditor, cost shouldn’t be the determining factor. More essential considerations include auditor experience, certifications, and successful project history.
Your capital improvement, operation, and maintenance budgets can be sources of funding for energy audits. The information gleaned will help you make wise decisions about which equipment to replace and how to operate your facility more energy efficiently.
Energy Service Companies (ESCOs)—companies that finance and manage the improvement projects and monitor the energy dollars saved. These companies are paid by sharing the energy dollar savings the project generates. The energy audit is a necessary first step in the process.
Utility companies and state and local governments are potential funding sources. These sources may also provide incentives to help pay for the energy-saving measures you implement.
Some product vendors may offer no or low-cost audits. These audits generally lack the whole building scope that leads to significant savings. Additionally, audits conducted by inexperienced staff or unqualified auditors can result in little or no energy savings.
Onyx Power & Gas Consulting
Onyx offers a full facility review and written report identifying opportunities to reduce energy consumption. A certified Onyx Engineer is available for an on-site audit to identify areas for improvement. In addition, Onyx works with many suppliers to replace aging or inefficient equipment, improving your bottom line and the environment. Onyx can provide just a report or implement a turnkey solution.