An energy audit is an overview of the current energy use of a building, home or business with the intention to remove any inefficiency without impacting upon comfort or productivity. Energy audits are often conducted in terms of systems, such as lighting or utilities, and are conducted to reduce energy costs, in the pursuit of a smaller carbon footprint or as a means to prioritise processes and systems.
Establish a baseline
The first step in conducting an energy audit is a review of monthly gas and electricity use preceding the audit and a general overview of installed equipment and business activity indicators - such as gross floor area and number of employees. This serves two functions. First, an analysis of energy bills will create a baseline against which future changes can be measured, and secondly, provide a set of data to compare the case against similar buildings.
Energy Usage Review and Technical Review
The energy usage review is an in-depth examination using specialist equipment to track where energy is being used and comparing this data against the historical utility figures. The technical review is essentially an inspection of installed equipment such as elevators, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling (HVAC), office equipment, network infrastructure and insulation. At this point preliminary energy conservation measures and energy conservation opportunities can be drawn up. These may include replacing older equipment with more energy efficient models, installing low-energy light bulbs and using timers on equipment to save energy.
The analysis will produce the first quantitative data on the expected savings from implementing more efficient processes and systems. This step is generally examines each category of installed equipment in terms of energy used and possible energy savings within the context of the energy consumption patterns and energy load profiles of the entire project. This data is used to support recommendation for refits or changes in each system to increase energy efficiency.
The overview of energy audit procedures presented above is brief but do give a sense of the possible scope and extent of an energy audit. It is important to note that much can be done to improve energy efficiency without impacting on the comfort or productivity of the facility. It may not be necessary to undergo major renovations or refits when relatively minor changes, such as installing low-energy light bulbs, can make a significant difference. The increasing affordability of clean energy generated by renewable sources, such as solar, offer another opportunity to increase efficiency.