An Energy Audit is an inspection of a property, residential, commercial or industrial, to search for energy drains.  The cost of energy is very high, so people are looking for ways to save on these expenses. There are a plethora of ways that energy is wasted.   So there are just as many ways for savings to be found.  Call in the professionals.

All Energy Audits are comprehensive; however, a residential audit will not be as time-consuming as one done for a commercial client.  An industrial review will be even more exhaustive due to the potential for an increase in energy loss.  Basically, there are four main parts to an Energy Audit: Pre-planning, Conducting the Audit, Implementing Changes and Verifying and Sustaining the Results.

Pre-planning assures that all key players are committed to the process as input from all levels of an organization is essential. During this stage, identify team members, establish the goals, determine the scope, and develop a timeline.

The Energy Audit involves gathering information, measuring energy use, developing conservation strategies, choosing the most cost-effective plan going forward,  implementing the changes followed by verifying the results.  Experts recommend that companies repeat the audit process at regular intervals. There is no set time for these additional inspections; it will depend on the company, their goals and their budget.

An Energy Audit is comprehensive and gathers a lot of information from various components. A facility walkthrough is essential.  Employees and/or tenants complete surveys in addition to conversations with the same stakeholders.  Although the audit will be headed by a professional auditor, it would be prudent to assign a small team or even a liaison to assist the experts.  It is vital to involve a high-level manager who can make decisions quickly to facilitate tasks. Baseline information comes from existing data, such as utility bills and maintenance records.

The audit itself takes measurements from equipment, appliances, lighting, wiring, computing systems, HVAC, insulation, and the list goes on.  If there is a potential for energy loss from any component, it should be assessed. The auditors trace components from the source of energy to the point of use. They use a variety of test instruments to identify energy waste and other abnormal conditions. The audit assesses the efficiency, physical condition and operating profile of equipment.  Resources are available from equipment and test instrument manufacturers that guide taking measurements and recognizing potential energy waste issues.

Once all the information is collected, a report is generated.  The report identifies all the examples of wasted energy. The data is itemized with related issues grouped together.  The price of the extra energy consumed is estimated from the measurement or the audit, and the rate gleaned from billing information.  For each energy problem, one or more solutions are given, along with their estimated total cost. The total cost includes every financial impact identified to fix the problem such as equipment expenses, labour, employee training and any downtime caused by the repairs. The financial analysis illustrates the Return on Investment estimates, how much savings the company will see and when the savings will be realized. An important consideration here is that there are numerous government tax breaks and other incentives to make changes that achieve energy savings.  In some cases, the audit itself could be discounted as part of the incentive program.  Energy Auditing companies should be aware of the federal or provincial programs available.

Implementing the recommendations begins once the report is reviewed, and the results have been evaluated.  Management will prioritize the recommendations and create an action plan for implementation. Part of the plan will include a measurement strategy on how to measure success. A time frame should be set to follow up and verify the savings and assure there were no adverse outcomes. Maintenance programs can then be set to sustain energy savings.

All in all, there is value in having an Energy Audit.  It is common knowledge that energy is wasted in many areas, whether it be at home or at work. Knowledge not so common is where and how. An Energy Audit will provide that information.  An audit will save money as well as save energy – talk about “green” savings!