An energy assessment can save your business money, improve productivity and provide opportunities to innovate.
In some cases, you’ll be able to conduct your energy assessment in house, but if you don’t have the skills within the business to run your own assessment, many external experts or energy services companies will do all or part of it for you.
Doing the assessment yourself
Gather the last 12 months of billing data
If this information isn’t detailed enough, give your energy retailer or supplier a call: they may be able to provide more specifics. While billing data may not answer all your questions, it should uncover gaps or identify some of your company’s higher-energy use processes.
Consider hiring a temporary meter (for short-term use), or installing your own meters to capture specific operating periods. Don’t forget to factor in daily, monthly or seasonal variations when you are analysing the results.
Analyse your energy baseline
This baseline will clarify the relationship between energy costs to business output.
Common analysis techniques include:
- track energy use over time to determine energy use patterns (consider seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily or hourly usage)
- X-Y plotting energy use versus production or other parameters, and
- benchmarking energy performance to reveal whether a process, facility or business unit is operating at optimum performance level, or to draw comparisons between sites.
Track your results
Make sure you close the loop by tracking your progress and any improvements in your company’s energy use over time you’ll have great data to share across your business (success stories are an excellent way to build support for continual energy savings).
If you’re hiring an energy assessor
While smaller operators may be able to conduct their own energy assessments, more complex energy-using businesses may find that paying for an energy assessment will pay off.
Assessments should be completed to the relevant Australian Standards:
- AS/NZS 3598.1:2014 Energy Audits—Commercial Buildings
- AS/NZS 3598.2:2014 Energy Audits—Industrial and related activities
- AS/NZS 3598.3:2014 Energy Audits—Transport related activities.
What sort of energy efficiency assessment do you need?
Australian Standard energy audits fall into one of three categories:
Type 1 audits (basic energy audits)
A Type 1 audit will provide a basic overview of your company’s energy consumption, and a broad estimate of energy savings available from opportunities with relatively short payback periods. These audits are useful for smaller businesses, or to evaluate the broad potential to save energy at larger sites, if energy efficiency has not yet been assessed.
Type 2 audits (detailed energy audits)
Type 2 audits provide a more rigorous analysis of your company’s energy consumption. These audits will quantify potential energy savings based on detailed data and analysis of the specific equipment and operating conditions applying to each site. This level of audit also includes financial evaluation of opportunities (based on agreed financial criteria) which will help business owners prioritise the opportunities shown in the audit. For these audits, installation of additional measurement equipment is not generally required.
Type 3 audits (precision subsystem audits)
Type 3 audits are useful for larger businesses with specialist equipment, or companies with major production facilities. These audits focus on a major subsystem, such as boilers or compressed air systems, and involve taking additional measurements to quantify opportunities to a higher level of accuracy than less complex audits.
Where can I find an assessor?
Energy auditor training and accreditation varies from state to state.
The Energy Efficiency Council has a list of service providers on its website.
The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage lists energy efficiency experts.
NSW businesses can utilise NSW Office of Environment & Heritage’s matching service, which pairs businesses with energy efficiency auditors. Call 1300 361 976 and ask to speak to someone from the Energy Efficiency Business Team.
Tips for selecting an energy efficiency assessor
The Australian standards specify the kinds of skills, knowledge and experience assessors need to do their job well. These requirements vary by industry, but also by the type of audit and the equipment used by the business. Bearing that in mind, questions to ask when selecting an assessor might include:
- Have you assessed other businesses in my sector?
- How much do you know about my industry/my type of business/my specialist equipment?
- Can you provide references from other business owners (ideally in my sector) you have audited for energy efficiency using the Australian Standard, or for government energy efficiency programs?
- What type of audit are you experienced and qualified to provide for the equipment at my site?
- How do you or your team meet the competency requirements in the Australian Standard?
- What type of Australian Standard audit do you think my business needs and why?
- Can you help me with implementing the opportunities you identify?
- Does your company guarantee the savings identified will cover all project costs?
Information that will help your energy efficiency assessor do a good job
Type 1 audits
Provide energy bills for at least the past twelve months, and as much information as you have on usage patterns – for example, the number of hours equipment or lighting is used every week.
Type 2 audits
In addition to the information provided for a Type 1 audit, provide energy sub-metering information, information on energy charges, and access to design, control system and maintenance information. This is all important, because a Type 2 audit will include a comprehensive analysis of energy consumption.
Type 3 audits
As well as the information for Type 1 and Type 2 audits, provide additional information on the interactions between the specified subsystem being audited and other equipment at your site. You should also supply the operating profile for that subsystem and any other information that will help to identify the additional measurements needed for this level of audit.
Note: For Type 2 or 3 audits in particular, it is advisable to refer to the standard to identify whether there is sufficient data available for the audit.
- Energy Savings Measurement Guide Australian Government