Types of energy audits

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Courtesy of Mid-Atlantic Associates, Inc.

This is the second in a series of informational articles to commercial and industrial owners and occupants intended to present methods to reduce energy usage and improve efficiencies of existing energy loads within buildings and manufacturing processes. We at Mid-Atlantic are dedicated to assisting our clients to address impending utility rate cap terminations that are projected to significantly increase their future operating costs and allow them to stay competitive in their respective markets.

Taking the Next Step

If impending electric and energy rate increases are of concern to you, and you want to take the next step to reduce your energy consumption, you need to understand the scopes of energy audits and how to select a consultant to help you identify energy saving measures – otherwise known as Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs).

Types of Audits

There are basically three types of energy audits: Preliminary, Single Purpose, and Comprehensive.

Selecting the one that suits your specific needs saves you time and money since the type you select is distinguished by the level of detail and analyses required to conduct the audit.

Type 1: Preliminary Audits

These are quick evaluations used to determine the potential of ECOs and decide if a more detailed audit is warranted. These audits are basically a screening tool that shouldn’t take more than one day to complete and in most cases can be done in house to determine if it makes sense to hire an outside energy consultant to further evaluate your facility. Costs range between one to three cents a square foot depending on the complexity of the facility. A report typically provides minimal engineering calculations and rough estimates of energy savings and ECO project costs.

Type 2: Single Purpose Audits

These types of audits provide more detailed analyses of one or more type of ECO projects. These audits target lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), energy management systems, office equipment and/or facility equipment such as motors, ventilating fans, and process equipment. These types of audits may run from five to nine cents per square foot depending on the ECO evaluated.

Type 3: Comprehensive Audit

These types of audits will provide a detailed energy project implementation plan for a facility and will result in a more accurate estimate of energy savings and costs. One of the primary elements of the comprehensive audit is an energy balance of the facility based on an inventory of energy usage, assumptions of current operating conditions and calculations of energy usage. These estimates are compared to actual energy usage (utility bills) to ensure that they are accurate.

The audit type you select will depend on your specific energy savings goals. If you have well defined needs aimed at a specific project, then a targeted audit may suffice. Otherwise, if your goals are not well defined, then a comprehensive audit may be warranted to help define project benefits.

There are numerous questions you can ask of your consultant to determine which type of audit is appropriate for your situation and facility. Contact me at 610-935-1021 for a list of qualifying questions to determine your needs.

Future Publications

The next article in this series will discuss how to select a consultant to help you define your ECOs.

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