Conducting an Energy Audit

Mon, May 18, 2009

1. How To, a. Get Started

Do you want your business to become energy efficient, but don’t know where to start? We have put together a guide to help you figure out how to conduct energy audits as a means to assess your potential savings opportunities.

The first step should be to visit http://www.business.gov/expand/green-business/energy-efficiency/state-local/, a U.S. Government resource for small businesses. Here, you’ll find links to state programs that provide financial resources to companies going green. These programs offer technical assistance to help small business owners conduct energy audits.

What is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is an assessment of your business’s energy use to determine where you can save money and energy. Get in touch with your utility provider. They’ll connect you to a professional who will conduct the audit.

If you’d rather conduct an independent audit, there are plenty of resources available.

Depending on the size of your organization, choose either an energy representative or energy team. Having a point person to coordinate efficiency efforts and report results will make the process smoother.

Getting Started

A simple, yet thorough walk-through of your building is the easiest way to conduct an energy audit. Energy savings from reducing drafts can range from 5 all the way up to 30% per year, so check for air leaks along baseboards and where the walls meet the floor and ceiling. Try to rattle windows and doors; if you can that usually means air leaks. Caulk or add weather-stripping along the frames. Also make sure to check electrical outlets and switch plates for potential leaks. Be sure to have your heating and cooling equipment inspected annually and replace filters every other month to ensure maximum efficiency.

Approximately 10% of your monthly electric bill is the cost of lighting. Examine light bulbs in your workspace. Ask yourself if 75 watt bulbs can be used instead of 100 watt bulbs. Those lights that are on for extended periods of time should be switched to compact fluorescent bulbs.

Saving Energy

This checklist created by the U.S. Department of Energy is an ideal starting point for seeing common areas where you can conserve energy. It includes helpful tips like installing motion sensors to automatically light and dim work spaces depending on occupancy; open blinds in the cooler months to allow sunlight to naturally heat the building; and turn off all electronics like fax machines and printers and computers at night.

To see how your business’s energy use compares to others in your area, the California Energy Commission has created a useful calculator. (It’s applicable to all areas, not just California). You enter the type of building, location, square footage, electricity and natural gas and water consumption based on utility bills. Seeing your use stacked up against similarly sized buildings is a good way to determine how much you need to conserve.

An energy audit is well worth the initial time it takes to conduct. Once you analyze the results and form your energy plan, your business will be well on its way to saving money and energy and helping the environment.

by Danielle Bullen

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