What’s Involved in a Professional Energy Audit?
A commercial facility’s energy expenses can be among its highest and most consistent monthly costs. Any steps toward energy efficiency and reductions in energy usage can result in significant savings along with improved indoor comfort, better HVAC system performance, and overall increases in conservation. A professional energy audit is a good first step toward improving facility energy efficiency and reducing ongoing costs. The following brief introduction will give you an idea of what is involved in a professional energy audit for a commercial facility.
The Goal of an Energy Audit
At its most basic level, an energy audit is intended to identify areas where your facility uses energy, how much energy is used, and what can be done to reduce the amount of energy consumed each month. Energy audits can show where daily processes are wasting energy and how those processes can be changed. They can locate areas where energy is being wasted, such as through energy leaks. They can give you an accurate idea of how much energy your facility requires and what can be done to reduce overall energy use.
Energy Audit Levels
An energy audit can be as complex as you’d like. The more thorough the audit, the more effective it will be. Energy audits are most commonly performed at one of the following levels.
- Level one: This is the simplest level and usually involves a walkthrough inspection of your facility. It may also include a visual inspection of the building’s exterior, along with an infrared scan to detect areas of energy loss. The auditor may also briefly review your energy bills and usage patterns.
- Level two: Mid-level energy audits is conducted at a more detailed level and can include assessments of factors such as building occupancy and how it affects energy usage. Intermediate audits can help identify areas where changes and improvements can be made to boost energy efficiency.
- Level three: High-level energy audits will include detailed physical assessments of the facility, in-depth testing procedures, and professional determinations of what capital improvements can be made to boost energy efficiency. They may also include longer-term energy usage monitoring and sophisticated spot measurements of energy usage.
Energy Audit Procedures
Energy audit procedures and tests can involve any or all of the following.
- Energy expense assessment: The energy auditor can examine your energy bills to help you determine where you are using the most energy in your facility. A long-term expense evaluation gives the auditor the information needed to determine if your usage patterns are outside of expected ranges and, if so, where you can begin to concentrate your energy use reduction efforts.
- Thermal scans: Infrared thermal scans of the building can show where energy is being lost and where your building’s envelope is most effective at maintaining energy efficiency. Areas of heat loss, for example, usually show up as large red areas on the scan. These red spots help you pinpoint where your building needs additional insulation or air sealing.
- Infiltrometer testing: Infiltrometer testing, sometimes called blower door testing, can also show where air leaks and energy loss are occurring in your building’s structure. This process involves placing a large fan in an outer door. When the fan is activated, changes in indoor pressure can show the location of even the smallest air leaks.
- Smoke pencil testing: Often done in conjunction with infiltrometer testing, smoke pencil testing uses a device that emits a thin stream of smoke. When this smoke stream is held near an air leak, the stream will waver. This shows the locations of air leaks.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on performing a professional energy audit and how a commercial energy audit can help reduce your monthly operating costs, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!