What’s involved in an energy audit?

There are many considerations for saving both money and energy at a facility. To ensure that you are moving in the right direction, however, it may be necessary to have an energy audit conducted.
By David Manney May 27, 2016

There are many considerations for saving both money and energy at a facility. To ensure that you are moving in the right direction, however, it may be necessary to have an energy audit conducted. Courtesy: L&S ElectricThere are many considerations for saving both money and energy at a facility. To ensure that you are moving in the right direction, however, it may be necessary to have an energy audit conducted. These are typically conducted by a third party who follows specific guidelines and works with in-house auditors, if they are available, to establish the criteria to maximize energy efficiency. An energy audit can be broken down into several key steps:

  • Preparation/Planning
  • Data Collection
  • System Measurements
  • Review Operating Practices
  • Data Analysis
  • Reporting and Recommendations

There are also two primary types of audits that may be considered for an industrial energy audit. A walk-through audit, usually referred to as a preliminary audit, and a diagnostic (detailed) audit.

The preliminary energy audit uses readily available data to analyze performance and energy consumption at the plant. It does not typically require a lot of data collection or measurement. Preliminary energy audits can be done in a shorter amount of time, but the results are more generalized.

A diagnostic, or detailed, audit requires more information and data collection. The data inventory may be conducted throughout the facility at the critical energy systems, and the collected data is reviewed in detail. A detailed audit takes longer to complete than a walk-through audit, but the results are much more detailed and comprehensive. If you’re looking for a highly accurate snapshot of energy performance at your plant and more specific recommendations from the auditors, the detailed audit is one that should be considered.

Planning Phase—before getting an energy audit, the criteria for the audit is reviewed and defined.

Data Collection—Data can be collected in many ways at the facility. In some cases, it may be just a review of the energy bills, both current and historical, or it may be a review of production-related data. Ongoing data collection may also be necessary at specific points throughout the facility to monitor energy usage and to check for any issues that may need correction.

System Measurements—Some of the system measurements that may be taken include electrical measurements, the temperature of the liquid or solid surfaces, the pressure in pipes, relative humidity, exhaust emissions, and fuel flows.

Review Operating Practices—The operating practices at any facility can have a large impact on the energy audit as well.

Data Analysis—During a thorough energy audit, massive amounts of data will be accumulated, and at times, there may be an ongoing accumulation of data from specific areas of the facility. Software is used to analyze the data and to look for any issues that may exist.

Reporting and Recommendations—A comprehensive report will be provided, and any recommendations for improving energy usage at the facility will be given at that time.

It can take some time to have the energy audit performed, but it is going to be well worth it in the long run. If you follow the recommendations of those who conduct the energy audit, it can save you both time and money and improve the production at your facility in numerous ways.

— David Manney is a marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on L&S Electric Watts New Blog. L&S Electric Inc. is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Erin Dunne, production coordinator, CFE Media, edunne@cfemedia.com.