What is an Energy Audit?
An Energy Audit is conducted by a qualified energy professional who is able to analyse energy usage at your business. An Energy Audit can be conducted at Level 1, 2 or 3 (AS3598).
For example, a Level 2 audit comprises of:
- An analysis of the historical energy consumption – using a minimum of 24 months of data.
- A tariff analysis to ensure that the business is on the tariff which matches their energy usage.
- An on-site inspection of the business to obtain a checklist of equipment and appliances.
- A staff survey to ascertain the usage pattern of the equipment and appliances, and obtain an understanding of the work processes.
- An audit report with recommendations on actions which can be taken to reduce energy use, and/or change their tariff.
For a medium-sized business, such as Goodwill Engineering, with a number of heavy duty equipment and mixed activities, a Level 2 audit is the most appropriate. For small businesses, a Level 1 walkthrough audit may be sufficient.
Why do businesses need an Energy Audit?
No two businesses are the same. The energy issues at one engineering firm would be different to the next. An energy audit is the FIRST STEP toward carbon reduction, through better energy efficiency. It serves to identify the major areas of energy use at your business, so that actions can be targeted. This way, your business gets the most "bang for buck" for any investment made to improve energy efficiency,
An energy consultant will give you independent advice, whereas a lighting consultant will try and sell you energy efficient lighting, and a compressor company will tell you to upgrade your equipment. An independent energy audit will give you a full picture of your business' energy use, allowing you to make the most cost-effective decisions.
How to take actions after an Energy Audit?
An important component of an Audit report is the list of actions you can take to reduce energy use. The list should comprise of behavioural and practice changes, as well as technology changes.
Read the report thoroughly, and discuss with your management and staff about prioritizing actions. Set yourselves short-term and long-term targets, and start tracking your energy use.
Make sure everyone is on board your Energy Efficiency/Carbon Reduction program. You need to communicate with your staff and explain what you are trying to achieve. Raise their awareness and tell them what they can do to help – this can be incorporated into staff induction and training.
You can also engage the Energy Consultant to help you take actions. They can assist with action prioritization and staff training, as well as sourcing reputable suppliers of goods and services.
How to choose a good Energy Consultant?
A good Energy Consultant is "worth their weight in gold", but they're hard to find. They should have tertiary and professional training, and have an in-depth knowledge of energy issues, tariff structures and energy efficient technologies. They should be able to provide an Audit report that is easily understood, complete with a comprehensive list of recommendations. Ideally, the list should be sorted following a cost-benefit analysis.
Choose an independent consultant, that is, one who is not part of a company trying to sell you their products. The best way to find a reputable Energy Consultant is through referral from a business associate, or through your industry association. If they did not come recommended, you can ask to see one of their past Energy Audit reports to check their quality of work, or ask for a reference from a recent client.