If you own a small company, a commercial building, or a manufacturing facility, you too are perhaps familiar with energy efficiency and are constantly looking for ways to cut down on your building’s energy bill.
You probably also heard of energy audits or recently conducted one, but you’re still unsure about your future actions and how they’re gonna impact your potential energy savings.
Or maybe, your recent energy audit didn’t quite deliver, due to a weak savings scope or a poor follow-up on improvement opportunities.
Energy audits can be intimidating, but we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll help you learn the importance of a quality energy audit, how you can make the most out of it, and how to take your building’s energy efficiency to the next level using continuous monitoring.
What’s a building Energy audit?
An energy audit is an assessment of the energy needs and consumption in a residential, industrial or commercial building to determine its energy efficiency.
Energy audits generally consist of collecting and analyzing energy data, determining total energy usage, an on-site inspection to identify energy savings opportunities, calculations to estimate the cost/benefit of those opportunities, and finally producing a report with recommendations on what actions you can take to save energy.
Simply put, an audit will identify your energy savings opportunities, estimate the investment
required and present the annual savings expected.
Here are the main energy audit steps:
Why you should conduct an Energy audit
Here are 5 reasons why energy audits can significantly benefit your business:
1) Empower your company’s reputation: According to a 2015 Nielsen study, 45% of consumers’ buying habits are heavily or very heavily influenced by the sustainable environmental practice of a company.
2) Lower carbon emissions: The energy we use is not only costly for our pockets, but it also has a big environmental cost. Reducing your carbon footprint through energy efficiency is an essential step toward thriving in a net-zero economy.
3) Understand your energy usage: Get informed on what’s using the most energy, identify energy waste and learn what can you do to be more energy efficient.
4) Achieve compliance with legal requirements: Energy and carbon reporting schemes such as SECR and ESOS are compulsory for large companies. Even small businesses should have regular audits conducted to avoid any non-compliance fines.
5) Increase your property’s resale value: Performing an energy audit can positively impact the scale of your offer. It shows you’re cautious about your property.
” I would like to conduct an energy audit, but my company is small and we can’t afford it right now. “
If you own an SME, you must be familiar with this issue. You’re more likely to be focused on your company’s needs to get customers and deliver products/services, and energy efficiency might not be your number one priority.
And this is why national authorities are supporting energy audits and energy efficiency projects.
Here are a few examples from all around the world:
– If your company is based in Tunisia, you will get:
- An incentive bonus of 70% on the energy audit cost, up to 30 000 TD.
- An incentive bonus of 70% on intangible investments capped at 70000 TD.
- An incentive bonus of 20% on tangible investments capped at 100000 TD.
According to the 5th article of the law 2004-72 relating to energy control (Decree: n°2004- 2144, Order of
the Minister of Industry of June 11, 2007)
– In Côte d’Ivoire: At the industry level, the short-term objective was to audit 20% of industry by 2020. This rate will then increase to 50% by 2030 with raising awareness of industries and incentive measures taken in terms of financial, fiscal, and tariff advantages. This is according to the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (PANEE) IVORY COAST Period [2016-2020/2030] – In the MENA region, the framework conditions for energy efficiency have also made solid progress. This is displayed, for example, in a decree issued in 2019 on mandatory energy audits and the ministerial circular on the verification of prescribed energy efficiency standards for building permits in Morocco.
– In The European Union (DEESME project): Funded by Horizon 2020, DEESME is a three-year project (2020-2023), aimed to help small, medium-sized companies and national authorities to engage in the energy transition through guidelines and recommendations on energy management and energy audit approaches. The project will share best practices and support nations in elaborating more effective schemes regarding energy audits and energy management systems.
Speaking of that, do you know the difference between Energy Audits (EA) and Energy Management Systems (EnMS)?
And do you know which one your business needs?
Spoiler alert: You need them both.
The difference between an energy audit and an Energy
Management System (EnMS)
The difference between energy audits and energy management systems is basically the difference between a timely study and a long-term strategy for improving energy efficiency.
An energy audit, as explained above, is a systematic procedure that consists of the examination and analysis of energy data in order to identify potential energy-saving measures.
On the other end, an energy management system (EnMS), is about continuous energy monitoring and continuous improvement in energy performance over time. It is usually aligned with ISO 50001 and it follows the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle for energy management.
An energy management system targets behavioral, organizational, and technological barriers allowing a more comprehensive approach to energy efficiency.
Unlike a one-time energy audit, an energy management system is a process of ongoing improvement that requires businesses to keep on looking for new opportunities for reducing energy use in all areas of activity.
Putting your energy audit to work with an EnMS
If you’re not following up your professional energy audit with an EnMS implementation, chances are you’re just wasting your resources. This is usually the first action you need to perform right after the auditing phase.
Even a clear-cut energy audit can be intimidating. It is crucial to be able to break it down to manageable, short-term actions.
In essence, the energy management process involves conducting an energy audit to highlight the energy- saving opportunities, putting them into action with an energy management system as a first step, and tracking the progress made after those changes were implemented. This is where energy management solutions, like Wattnow, come into play.
For example, let’s say you just set an automatic control of air conditioning during off-hours to eliminate electrical energy waste in your facility. After this action is taken, tracking the progress made is the most important part. An EnMS allows you to do that with real-time energy consumption monitoring.
In other words, you don’t need to wait for your next energy audit to evaluate the changes made to reduce energy usage. You can do it in real-time and get notified using an energy management solution. After all, energy audits can be costly, infrequent, and especially time-consuming.
Also, in order to achieve continuous improvement in energy efficiency, businesses should strive for behavioral and organizational changes, in addition to the technological changes provided by an EA. Employees at all levels of an organization need to be engaged and involved in order to achieve energy efficiency goals.
A more comprehensive outlook on energy management is needed, and that’s what an energy management system helps you to do.