An energy audit can clarify your company’s energy consumption and identify areas for potential savings. It can lead to reduced energy use, improved productivity and opportunities to innovate.
Energy audits can be conducted in house. However, if skills are not available internally, external experts or energy services companies can be engaged to conduct part or all of the process.
Conduct an in-house energy audit
Access energy data
Understanding where and when the business uses energy is crucial to finding the best ways to save money. Energy bills can provide some of this information, but detailed data and assessments will help you gain a better understanding of energy use.
To get a complete picture of electricity and gas use, at least 12 months of data showing energy-use patterns will need to be collected. Billing data should uncover gaps or identify some of your company’s higher-energy use processes. This information can be obtained directly from the energy supplier or a third party can be authorised to access the data
You can also rent a meter to measure short-term energy use, or install meters to capture specific operating periods. Don’t forget to factor in daily, monthly or seasonal variations when analysing the results.
Electricity monitors show in real time how much energy your business is using and how much this energy costs. Some energy retailers offer free energy monitoring. There are also energy monitoring apps for both Apple and Android devices. Plug-in monitors are also available.
To read more on accessing and understanding energy data, visit the Victorian Energy Saver website.
Analyse your energy baseline
Your energy baseline will clarify the relationship between your business’s energy use and activities, linking energy costs to business output.
Common analysis techniques include:
- graphing energy use over time to determine energy use patterns, factor in seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily or hourly usage
- X-Y plotting energy use versus production or other parameters
- benchmarking energy performance to see whether a process, facility or business unit is operating at optimum performance level, or to draw comparisons between sites.
Close the loop by tracking your progress and any improvements in your company’s energy use over time. You’ll have useful data to share across your business. Successes are an excellent way to build support for continual energy savings.
Energy efficiency training
For a range of energy efficiency training providers and options including accredited training, on-the-job learning, government workshops, and programs offered by professional and industry associations, see the Energy efficiency training page.
Energy-intensive businesses with a net energy consumption of more than 0.05 PJ per year should refer to the large energy users section for guidance on how to conduct an energy efficiency assessment.
Engage an energy auditor
Audits 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.
Choose the right type of audit
Australian Standard energy audits fall into 1 of 3 categories:
Type 1 audit (basic energy audit)
A basic overview of your company’s energy consumption, and a broad estimate of energy savings with relatively short payback periods.
These audits are useful for smaller businesses. Larger businesses can also benefit if energy efficiency has not been previously assessed.
Type 2 audit (detailed energy audits)
A more rigorous analysis of your company’s energy consumption. It will quantify potential energy savings based on detailed data and analysis of the specific equipment and operating conditions applying to each site.
Also includes financial evaluation of opportunities based on agreed criteria that will help business owners prioritise the opportunities shown in the audit. Installation of additional measurement equipment is not generally required.
Type 3 audit (precision subsystem audits)
Focuses on a major subsystem, such as boilers or compressed air systems. It involves additional measurements to quantify opportunities to a higher level of accuracy.
Useful for larger businesses with specialist equipment or major production facilities.
Find an auditor
Energy auditor training and accreditation varies between states and territories.
The Energy Efficiency Council website has a list of service providers.
The Australian standards specify the kinds of skills, knowledge and experience auditors need to do their job well. These requirements can vary across industry depending on the audit required and the equipment used by the business.
Questions to ask when selecting an energy auditor 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 similar business owners you’ve audited using the Australian Standard?
- 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 to provide to your auditor
Type 1 audit
Provide energy bills for at least the past 12 months, and as much information as you have on usage patterns – for example, the number of hours your equipment or lighting is used every week.
Type 2 audit
In addition to the requirements for a Type 1 audit, provide information on energy sub-metering, energy charges, access to design, control systems and maintenance. This is all essential as a Type 2 audit will include a comprehensive analysis of energy consumption.
Type 3 audit
As well as the requirements 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.
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 an audit at those levels.
AS/NZS 3598.1:2014 Energy Audits—Commercial buildings Standards Australia
AS/NZS 3598.2:2014 Energy Audits—Industrial and related activities Standards Australia
AS/NZS 3598.3:2014 Energy Audits—Transport related activities Standards Australia
Energy efficiency in industry Energy Efficiency Council