What is an Energy Audit?

| Lauren McNamara & Nicole Voudren

What is an Energy Audit

If your business had the opportunity to reduce operating costs and increase productivity, comfort, and safety with minimal funds needed to implement, would you do it? Most would say it was a no-brainer.

Implementing energy efficiency projects can provide all of that, but what types of projects are “energy efficiency projects,” how do I know if my facility should invest in them, and where do I start?!

Finding Opportunities to Reduce Waste

Energy audits provide insight into what improvements can be made to reduce energy waste and increase energy efficiency in a facility. Improvements to a facility’s lighting, HVAC, or mechanical infrastructure can increase energy efficiency immediately. Energy efficiency audit reports break down the total cost of the project and the potential energy savings as well as annual maintenance savings that would go right back into a facility’s bottom line. Altogether a return on investment, also known as ROI, will be calculated to show what the timeline would be for a facility to begin to reap the benefits of its investments. 

After an energy audit is done, a facility is left with a list of projects they can implement as capital becomes available. Another perk of investing in energy efficiency projects is that many are eligible for incentives. Horizon Solutions can also help you navigate the local utility program’s rebate and incentive offerings. 

What do different levels of energy audits entail?

Preliminary Energy Use Analysis - Benchmarking

A preliminary energy use analysis is also referred to as benchmarking. It is when a customer provides the energy consumption for their entire building, facility, or campus along with the conditioned square footage. Energy use intensity (EUI) is calculated in kBTUs per square foot and compared to buildings with similar construction, occupancy, and climate zones. The preliminary energy use analysis is always conducted regardless of which level of audit is being delivered. It is the first step in identifying the energy efficiency potential of the facility.  

ASHRAE Level 1 Energy Audit – Walk Through Energy Audit

A level one audit consists of a walk-through of the facility to identify low-cost improvement opportunities and apparent areas of energy waste and inefficiency. This level of audit provides a point of reference for how to make a facility and its operations more energy efficient. It provides the building owner a general overview of how the building performs and identifies both low-cost and capital improvement opportunities to enhance operations and efficiency. Some high-level calculations may be conducted, often referred to as “back-of-the-envelope” calculations. 

ASHRAE Level 2 Energy Audit – Detailed Energy Audit Survey and Analysis 

A level two audit will estimate the costs of the identified measures as well as fully quantify the savings that can be expected if the measures and opportunities identified are implemented. It is a more rigorous analysis using industry-accepted algorithms and oftentimes requiring more data to be collected than a simpler level one audit. It includes an economic analysis resulting in ROI or simple payback (SPB). It also considers any grant or efficiency program funding opportunities. 

ASHRAE Level 3 Energy Audit – Investment-grade Energy Audit

A level three audit is a detailed analysis of capital-intensive modifications that requires deep analysis and potentially logging or metering of equipment. Level three analyses can involve computer-based simulations and energy models. 

SMPDC in Partnership with Horizon Solutions

In partnership with the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission (SMPDC), Horizon Solutions will be conducting energy audits for agricultural producers and small businesses within SMPDC’s region that meet the specified criteria. These energy audits will identify energy efficiency projects and will estimate implementation costs and potential energy and financial savings as well as the payback expected if these projects were executed. Horizon Solutions energy audits will be conducted by a team of qualified energy professionals. These subsidized energy audits are made possible with the funds provided through the USDA’s REDA program.

To check your eligibility or to learn more about this program, go to https://smpdc.org/energyaudit.

Local Expertise

Efficiency Maine is an independent administrator for programs to improve the efficiency of energy use and reduce greenhouse gases in Maine. They do this primarily by delivering financial incentives on the purchase of high-efficiency equipment or changes to operations that help customers save electricity, natural gas, and other fuels throughout the Maine economy. Between the energy savings from the improvements and the incentives, many businesses have been seeing ROI under or around two years!

We wrote another blog post about the importance of utilizing state incentives, find it here.

If you have been racking your brain for ways to reduce operating costs at your facility, worry no further. Give us a call today!