Using gas and electricity is an almost unavoidable aspect of running a business in this day and age. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make significant cuts in your energy usage, save money and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.
Aside from remembering to properly business energy when it comes to energy procurement to ensure you find the best contracts to suit your business’ needs, a straightforward, professional energy audit can help to reduce your costs and make your organisation more efficient. The following guide is designed to help your business get up to speed with energy audits, explaining why they can be so important and outlining the potential benefits they bring to your business. To help you plan your own energy audit, we’ve also included advice on how to conduct one and a handy checklist you can use during your next audit.
Business energy audits
Aside from remembering to properly compare energy suppliers when it comes to energy procurement to ensure you find the best contracts to suit your business’ needs, a straightforward, professional energy audit can help to reduce your costs and make your organisation more efficient. The following guide is designed to help your business get up to speed with energy audits, explaining why they can be so important and outlining the potential benefits they bring to your business. To help you plan your own energy audit, we’ve also included advice on how to conduct one and a handy checklist you can use during your next audit.
What is an energy audit?
Business energy audits are a way for corporate organisations to better understand how and where they use energy across the business. Usually involving a detailed survey of a company’s equipment and energy infrastructure, an audit of this type is used to provide an analytical snapshot of the business’ typical operating patterns. This is achieved through using the data provided to take stock of:
- how and during what times of the day your business uses energy
- how much energy your business uses in total
- how your business can implement efficient new strategies and/or install new technologies to reduce energy usage.
Types of energy audits
There are three main types of commonly used energy audits, each providing differing levels of detail. These are:
- Benchmarking energy audits – the most basic type of energy audit, benchmarking analyses a business’ energy usage through taking historic utility use and cost figures and simply comparing them with the utility data of similar sized businesses in the same industry. This can give business owners a basic understanding of how their organisation performs when it comes to energy usage, as well as provide data for more detailed energy audits to build on.
- Walkthrough energy audits – more thorough than a benchmark audit, a walkthrough involves an energy efficiency expert physically visiting your business premises to identify and highlight potential energy-saving opportunities. A detailed analysis of historic billing information and general operating data will also be part of the audit.
- Detailed energy audits – as the name suggests, a detailed audit is the most comprehensive type of energy audit. These audits form a complete energy profile of your business and its facilities through the use of detailed building and equipment surveys, and in-depth analysis of energy management plans put in place by successful similar businesses. A bespoke energy management strategy is formulated. This can involve ways to reduce wasted energy usage, technology-aided methods of making your business more energy efficient, and your business’ suitability for a full or partial switch to renewable forms of energy.
Why is an energy audit important?
Although a potentially time-consuming and frustrating process, business energy audits are becoming an increasingly significant part of energy procurement. Once only implemented by large corporations, now SMEs and even start-up businesses are taking advantage of these audits and reaping the rewards that come with them.
They are important because of the various benefits they can offer to your business. Audits allow your organisation to cut energy waste, save money on energy bills and reduce your business’ carbon emissions, which not only helps the planet but can help you to meet corporate social responsibility targets.
Assessing current energy usage:
Looking at how and where energy is currently being used across your business is the first stage of any energy audit. The ability to pinpoint areas of your company that are operating inefficiently can provide valuable data that can be compared to other energy efficient ‘model’ businesses in your industry and ultimately be used to highlight the savings you’ve achieved once final actions have been taken. This stage may also encourage your business to look for potentially better energy deals with different suppliers.
Conducting a walkthrough:
An expert-led systematic walkthrough of your entire business premises allows you to properly identify energy saving opportunities. This should be as thorough as possible allowing a comprehensive framework outlining improvements to be produced. In most cases, an accompanying energy audit checklist, similar to the one we provide below, is used to ensure no aspect of your business’ energy infrastructure is missed during the walkthrough.
Aside from searching for better energy contracts with other suppliers, once a full analysis has been done of all data produced during the first two stages, your business can now engage with equipment suppliers and installers, who can provide you with quotes for energy saving upgrades. At this point, your business will need to sit down and calculate whether the future estimated energy savings with new equipment and/or techniques highlighted during the audit can justify the potential costs involved with installation and training. This comparison between potential savings and estimated costs can help you produce a projected payback time for each project, allowing you to prioritise any energy saving actions you want to implement.
Business energy audit checklist
A business energy audit checklist can be used to help examine the energy efficiency of an establishment based on equipment, appliances, design, and usage. While it is recommended that a certified energy auditor carries out your audit, this checklist can be used by anyone to help identify opportunities for energy usage reduction and to offer potential solutions. Simply circle the appropriate answer.
Are your business’ facilities using the most energy efficient lighting options? i.e. could energy saving bulbs or LEDs be installed?
Is natural sunlight effectively used where possible?
Are there areas that use excessive or unneeded artificial lighting?
Does your business make use of lighting management technology, such as dimmers, timers or sensors?
Lighting notes and areas for improvement:
Are all buildings well insulated?
Are there any cracks or gaps around door frames, windows or foundations that need sealing?
Building insulation notes and areas for improvement:
Heating and cooling:
Are boilers, radiators and air conditioning systems operating efficiently?
Is there a regular maintenance and update schedule for these systems?
Are all buildings properly ventilated?
Heating and cooling notes and areas for improvement:
Is all electrical equipment maintained regularly to ensure it is operating at maximum efficiency?
Is all equipment up-to-date and does it meet energy efficiency regulations?
Is equipment shut down properly when not in use?
Electrical equipment notes and areas for improvement:
Do staff turn lights, fans, and all electrical equipment (computers, printers, A/C etc) off after use?
Are thermostats lowered when buildings are not in use (holidays, weekends, etc)?
Are thermostats set to reflect the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommended temperatures? (16°C for factories, 18°C for hospitals, and 20°C for offices).
Staff behavior notes and areas for improvement:
Findings and Recommendations:
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