What do you think is the most important component of commercial energy efficiency and sustainability is? Most people answer “recycling” or “lighting” or “HVAC.”
While all of these things play huge roles in energy efficiency, energy audit importance takes the cake. Energy audits are essential for understanding exactly where you need to improve and what you should prioritize to improve the energy efficiency of a building — which includes lighting, HVAC and more.
And while many people know that they should get an energy audit for their building, not many know the details of what it is and why it’s so important. In this article, we’re going to go in-depth about what an energy audit is, what goes into the process, what an audit can tell you, and how to apply the findings of your energy audit to increase energy efficiency of their building.
What Is a Commercial Energy Audit?
An energy audit is essentially an energy analysis of your facility. The audit itself will can include analysis of the following:
- Utility bill/charges
- HVAC system(s)
- Lighting system(s)
- Industrial/manufacturing uses
- Exhaust system(s)
- Equipment runtime/performance
- Light/temperature sensors
- Power, electric, thermal data usage analysis
- Hours/times of operation
- Surrounding environment/climate
- Diagnostic tests (ventilation, airflow testing, building envelope, inspections, etc)
This is just an overview of what can go into audits; the specific things looked at will depend on the level audit you choose (more on this in the next section).
What this list does show you is the scope and importance of this practice for commercial energy efficiency. Audits look at the business and the building as a whole along with any and all relevant power/energy aspects that go into your facility. This helps you identify key areas where efficiency can be improved based on your specific business.
Not All Audits Are Created Equal
What we just gave you is a general description of what an energy audit can be like. However, there are three specific subtypes of energy audits that will result in different analyses and reports depending on which you’re having done.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has outlined three distinct levels of energy audits:
Level 1: Walkthrough Assessment
Level 1 audits are basic and a great starting off point for buildings and businesses that are starting to think about commercial energy efficiency and optimization. These types of audits usually include interviews with facility managers and staff, analysis of utility bills, review of power use data, and a physical walkthrough (hence the name) of the building.
This introductory audit helps you pinpoint key areas of inefficiency along with key areas you’re doing well in. This information and data is then used to create a report that outlines various methods that can improve your efficiency. These methods also come with cost estimates.
Level 1 audits also can indicate areas that should be investigated further in future audits and whether you should invest in a higher level audit in the future.
Level 2: Energy Survey and Analysis
The next level up gives you more overall detail. You’ll get everything from level one along with a complete breakdown and description of your energy and power use.
A Level 2 analysis will also pinpoint and explain cost analysis and estimated savings/costs of all suggestions made for improving energy efficiency. It will also take into account any commercial limitations, economic data/limits, and more.
You will also get a potential cost of updates, maintenance, and operations of any suggestions made. Level 2 is often the most adequate and practical choice for many buildings as it’s detailed enough to give you a better scope without getting into details that don’t affect most general businesses unnecessarily.
Level 3: Detailed Analysis
Level 3 analysis is most often used for complicated industrial and commercial facilities. It takes into account everything from the past two levels and combines that with more detailed and rigorous data analysis. It also involves much more field testing and energy observations and is often used to make capital investment recommendations.
Energy Audit Importance for Your Business
Once the audit is complete, the auditor will present you with a report indicating:
- A description of your existing building and its energy conditions
- Explanations and descriptions of where your business can be more energy efficient
- Areas that need improvement
- Areas you’re doing well
- How you can save on energy
- Expected savings you could have
- Expected costs you could have
The report that you receive after having a professional energy audit done for your building is essentially a detailed and well-thought out explanation of the current status of your building’s energy efficiency as well as a plan of where and how it can be improved.
This is why energy audits are so important: before you start updating your business and making changes, you want to understand exactly what aspects need to be changed/updated for the most effective results. You need to understand the cost of these changes and the ROI that you can expect.
That’s exactly what an energy audit helps you do. It analyzes the key places where you can make changes that will save both energy and money. Audit reports can also explain to you the exact cost-benefit analysis for each part of the business. It can explain how much updates/changes are going to cost and how much you can save in various amounts of time.
Schedule an Energy Audit Today
One thing we haven’t touched upon yet is the cost of an energy audit. At Commonwealth Electrical Technologies, we offer a free energy audit along with personalized recommendations to help you get started on making your business more energy efficient.
After reading this post and understanding energy audit importance, it should be a no-brainer. Contact us today to set up your free audit. We can also go over which level of audit you might need along with any other questions you might have about the process.