- Conduct a walk-through audit to learn more about your facility and energy-use patterns.
- Start by gathering energy-use data and benchmarking it against that of similar facilities.
- Low-cost, portable instruments are available to measure energy use and spot inefficiencies.
- Utilize ActOnEnergy® resources – including Energy Advisors and a network of registered Program Allies – to help identify potential energy efficiency projects.
An energy audit is a great way to learn more about your consumption patterns and look for cost-saving opportunities. However, many facilities may be reluctant to hire a pricey consultant armed with an array of expensive equipment and software analysis tools. While outside expertise is necessary in certain situations, it is possible to conduct a thorough assessment on your own. After all, you know your processes and your facility better than anyone. This kind of inside knowledge can be helpful in spotting inefficiencies and finding better ways to manage your energy use.
The following are the key steps involved in conducting your own energy audit:
- Assign responsibility—the business owner or facility manager should take the lead in conducting the assessment. Larger operations may need to form a committee representing different departments.
- Gather data—review utility bills over the past year or a typical 12-month period to gain insight into your total energy consumption and usage patterns.
- Benchmark—compare your energy use against that of similar facilities. Use the Commercial or Industrial benchmark tools to find energy-use data for your business segment.
- Evaluate—review manuals and specifications of building equipment and mechanical systems to determine their type, size, and age. Examine architectural drawings and look at your operational schedule to gain a deeper insight into your building condition and energy-use patterns.
Now you are ready to begin your audit. Start by examining your building envelope (walls, windows, and roof), and then move on to lighting, mechanical systems, as well as other building and operating equipment.
Energy Audit Tools
While you may not have access to the kind of high-tech measurement and analysis equipment available to a professional auditor, there are a variety of low-cost instruments available that will help you measure energy consumption throughout your facility and look for ways to improve efficiency.
Watt meter—measures the power consumption and demand of individual motors, appliances, or mechanical equipment. This can help you better assess how you are using energy across your facility.
Light meter—quantifies the illumination levels in various areas of your facility and displays them as lux or foot candles. These measurements allow you to evaluate your lighting design and spot opportunities to reduce lighting energy use, such as lighting controls, daylighting, and dimming. Check illumination levels against those recommended by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).
Infrared thermometer—senses the infrared energy emitted by any material and converts it to a temperature reading. They are useful for illustrating thermal losses in walls and windows and act as a guide for sealing air leaks and adding insulation.
Flue gas analyzer—measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide, as well as the temperature, in the flue (exhaust) gas of boilers and other fuel-burning equipment. Armed with this information, it can be determined whether excess air needs to be controlled, thus reducing heat loss and lowering harmful emissions.
Wireless thermometer—portable and easy to use, these devices can be carried throughout your facility to measure the surrounding air temperature. They are useful for detecting temperature differences in individual rooms or areas, which can be a sign of poor air flow or building air leaks.
Tachometer—speed measurements can indicate belt slippage or improper loading in fans, blowers, and other motors. A digital tachometer is a simple device that measures rotational speed in revolutions per minute (RPM). With this information, you can make adjustments to improve equipment efficiency.
If you do not have the time to conduct a walk-through energy audit, the online Facility Assessment Wizard can be a helpful short cut. Just answer a few simple questions and receive a report filled with energy-saving recommendations tailored specifically to your facility. The entire process should only take five to ten minutes.
Whatever method you choose, an energy audit can increase your knowledge about your facility and energy use and find ways better utilize this critical resource.
Get Help Identifying Energy Efficiency Projects!
The Ameren Illinois ActOnEnergy Program can provide you with a number of resources to help make your facility more energy-efficient. Many contractors within our Program Ally network can perform energy audits and provide you with a detailed analysis of your current energy performance as well as the areas that could be improved. Registered Program Allies serve areas all across Ameren Illinois territory – to search for an Ally by location or specialty, visit ActOnEnergy.com/AllySearch
If you simply need help identifying potential energy efficiency projects, a FREE Energy Advisor consultation might be right for you. This consultation will pinpoint ways to save energy and provide direction on how to get your project started. Call 1.866.800.0747 to schedule an appointment with an Energy Advisor today!