An energy assessment can save your business money, improve productivity and provide opportunities to innovate.
You may be able to conduct your own energy assessment, but if you don’t have the skills within the business there are external experts that will do all or part of it for you.
Conducting your own assessment
Gather the last 12 months of billing data
If this information isn’t detailed enough, give your energy retailer or supplier a call as they can provide more information. Billing data should uncover gaps or identify some of your company’s higher-energy use processes.
You can hire 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.
Analyse energy baseline
This baseline will clarify the relationship between your business’s energy use and activities, linking energy costs to business output.
Common analysis techniques include:
- graph 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, and
- benchmark 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.
Hiring an energy assessor
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 1 of 3 categories:
Type 1 audits (basic energy audits)
This 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. Larger businesses can also benefit if energy efficiency has not yet been assessed.
Type 2 audits (detailed energy audits)
This will provide 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. This also includes financial evaluation of opportunities based on agreed financial criteria that will help business owners prioritise the opportunities shown in the audit. Installation of additional measurement equipment is not generally required.
Type 3 audits (precision subsystem audits)
This is 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. It involves additional measurements to quantify opportunities to a higher level of accuracy than less complex audits.
Finding an energy assessor
Energy auditor training and accreditation varies between states and territories.
The Energy Efficiency council has a list of service providers on its website.
The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage lists energy efficiency experts.
New South Wales 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.
Selecting an energy assessor
The Australian standards specify the kinds of skills, knowledge and experience assessors 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 assessor may 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 that will help your energy efficiency assessor do a good job
Type 1 audits
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 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.
Better Business Guide to Energy Saving UK Carbon Trust