A comprehensive energy-efficiency assessment will do two useful things:

  • help you understand your company’s energy hotspots
  • reveal ways to reduce costs.

What makes a successful energy-efficiency assessment?

Successful energy assessments are well planned, adequately resourced and effectively communicated.

Some companies assess the whole business at once, others take a staggered approach. Either way, an assessment will include the input of key internal stakeholders. A cross-silo approach usually works best—look for employees with influence over capital or operating budgets, or those with the authority to make changes to processes and procedures. If you don’t have the skills within the business to run your own assessment, many external experts or energy services companies will do all or part of it for you.

How to understand your company’s energy use

If existing invoice data isn’t detailed enough, ask your energy retailer for more information. While the answers may not be specific enough on their own, the data should uncover gaps or identify some of your company’s higher-energy use processes. It may also be worth hiring a temporary meter (for short-term use), or installing your own meters to capture specific operating periods. When analysing the results, daily, monthly or seasonal variations may need to be examined.

Then, combine usage data with other variables

While usage data is important, it’s essential to collect information on variables beyond that to get a true picture of your company’s energy use. For example, energy use per unit of production may differ according to production volumes, while changes in environmental conditions may impact energy use.

Next, analyse your energy baseline

This baseline will help you clarify the relationship between energy use and business activity, and link energy costs to business output. Common analysis techniques include:

  • graphs of energy use over time to determine energy use patterns (consider seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily or hourly usage)
  • X-Y plots of energy use versus production or other parameters like production
  • benchmarking energy performance to reveal whether a process, facility or business unit is operating at optimum performance level, or to draw comparisons between sites.

Where to make improvements

While the data will help pinpoint where improvements in energy use can be made, so can people. Consider holding a workshop or brainstorming session among stakeholders to discuss challenges and solutions.

Tracking: don’t forget to close the loop

Analysis and implementation are vital, but so is monitoring. By tracking your progress and any improvements to it, you’ll be ready to build support from senior management for savings initiatives.

Standards for energy audits

Energy audits determine how efficiently energy is consumed, identify cost-saving opportunities, and highlight potential improvements in building services and occupant comfort. Three energy audit standards are available from Standards Australia:

The Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) provides the Best Practice Guide to Measurement and Verification of Energy Savings, detailing measurement practices for investigating energy use or verifying the energy savings of an implemented project.

Additional energy-efficiency assessment resources

Australian resources

  • Energy Savings Measurement Guide 2013 (Opens in a new window)
    • Department of Industry
    • PDF

    This guide provides detailed and best practice guidance on how to estimate, measure, evaluate and track energy efficiency opportunities. It provides in-depth information on capturing energy data, establishing an energy baseline, developing an energy mass balance, analysing potential energy efficiency opportunities and monitoring the performance of implemented energy efficiency initiatives. The resource was developed for large energy-using organisations, but the tools can be applied across multiple sectors and organisation sizes.

International resources

  • Better Business Guide to Energy Saving 2013 (Opens in a new window)

    This guide can help you to conduct an initial walk-through assessment of your organisation to see what sort of energy use practices are in place. It can be a good way to start gaining a better understanding of how energy is being used and could help to identify energy saving opportunities with little or no cost. It is a resource that is best applied at the facility level.

    Note: Free registration is required to gain access to this document on the UK Carbon Trust