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Energy Checkup: Improving the Efficiency of Your Business

Key Points
  • An energy audit can help you target the most effective cost-saving strategies for your business.
  • ASHRAE defines three levels of audits, ranging from a simple walk-through to a detailed analysis.
  • You can locate certified auditors through ASHRAE or the Association of Energy Engineers. 

checkupEnergy is an important business resource, and a cost worth managing. Whether you're looking for simple efficiency upgrades or developing a long-term improvement plan, an energy audit or assessment will help you diagnose the right strategies for saving energy and money. It will also help you create a more comfortable business environment.

Types of energy audits

Audits can range from a simple assessment to a detailed evaluation including diagnostic testing and data tracking. ASHRAE defines three levels of energy audits.

Level 1 Walk-through is the basic starting point for optimizing building energy performance. It consists of an analysis of utility bills and a brief onsite inspection of the facility and its systems. The main objective of a Level 1 assessment is to identify low-cost, energy-saving measures and develop an initial list of more capital-intensive improvements.

Level 2 Energy survey and analysis is a more in-depth assessment of building energy use and a more detailed cost and savings analyses of recommended energy-efficiency measures. Energy performance is benchmarked and consumption is broken down by end use, such as lighting and air conditioning. A detailed site assessment may include a variety of diagnostic testing, such as light level assessment or airflow measurement.

Level 3 Detailed survey and analysis combines Level 1 and 2 procedures with detailed recommendations and financial analysis for major capital-intensive efficiency upgrades. The Level 3 audit may also include capturing long-term energy use data through data-logging devices or through the building's energy management system.

Which type is right for your business? It depends on your facility type and energy-saving goals. For smaller facilities, a Level 1 audit is typically sufficient. If your facility is larger or more complex (or you have a long-term energy management plan), a Level 2 or 3 audit may be appropriate.

Finding an energy auditor

Energy auditing services are offered by energy consultants and engineering firms. Depending on the size of your facility and the scope of the audit, the process may involve a single individual or a team of specialists.

Professional certification helps ensure that your service provider is trained in the auditing process. Certifying organizations include ASHRAE and the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

Once you have selected a qualified professional and determined the right audit level for your needs, you can begin to recommend the targeted energy-saving recommendations that will make your business more efficient and productive.