Energy Audits Help Businesses See the Big Picture and Save

If you’re about to green-light an energy efficiency investment, start smart with an energy audit.

An energy audit of your organisation will shine a light on your strengths and weaknesses and help you make better-informed decisions in the future.

According to ERM’s Digital Innovation and Advisory Lead, Pete Tickler, this can save you prematurely pulling the trigger on significant energy efficiency investments that may not be right for your organisation.

A holistic approach
Energy efficiency has so many moving parts and variables that it’s vital to look at the big picture. Firstly, there are the equipment upgrades like solar PV, power factor correction equipment and lighting upgrades. Then there are operational tuning opportunities that can help organisations improve energy productivity simply by adjusting existing infrastructure.

When organisations look at these options in insolation, things can go awry. No wonder so many organisations are first conducting an energy audit before they make any big changes.

“Energy audits give a 360-degree view of where the energy spend is going. They look at everything, listing estimated costs and potential returns for each option to provide a prioritised view. Armed with this information, you can make informed decisions based on your organisation’s specific needs and budget,” says Pete.

Case studies: how a closer look led to immediate savings
Aside from energy efficiency, audits can enlighten organsisations about where energy is being consumed, spotlighting poor performance areas and identifying maintenance issues or equipment that needs replacing.

“In the case of one public building, our energy audit identified a poorly tuned building management system running their HVAC system too hard and too often. A simple retune of the control settings cut the building’s energy spend in half overnight,” says Pete.

“Had a solar PV system been installed prior to this retune, it would have been significantly oversized, wasting thousands of dollars in the process.

“Another recent energy audit uncovered a costly maintenance oversight for one of our NSW customers. On a site visit, our engineer noticed the HVAC plant was operating in test mode following a maintenance visit by the contractor.”

Why energy audits are gaining traction now
Concern about rising energy costs is definitely making customers question what’s going on with their energy, as is the fact that audits are becoming prerequisites for organisations wanting to access government energy rebate schemes.

“We’re also seeing more organisations adding regular energy audits to their overall energy strategy and using them as a vehicle for assessing emerging technologies. For example, while there’s been a lot of hype around battery storage, in reality this technology is too expensive for many customers at the moment.

“Batteries will come down in price over time, and when they do an audit will help show if this is a viable option for your organisation,” says Pete.

A simple process
Organising an energy audit is easy and happens quickly. ERM provides an itemised quote upfront based on the size and number of sites you have and the level of audit required*.

“In our experience, Level 2 audits are appropriate for most orgnaisations. After the quote is approved, an ERM consultant will conduct an on-site visit guided by someone who knows your property and can assist with access.

“Our consultants are true energy experts with experience in all set-ups across a broad range of building types and industries. Starting at the main meter, they work downstream assessing energy loads, the equipment responsible and operational patterns. They check meter rooms, plant and mechanical rooms, lighting and controls, building surrounds and review maintenance and operations, taking notes and photographic evidence along the way.

“The next step is to supplement this inspection with comprehensive desktop analysis. We review 12 months of your actual energy data, looking for patterns and trends. Your profile is reviewed and benchmarked, and we use our knowledge to complete a cost and tariff review to tailor recommendations to your business,” explains Pete.

At the end of this process, we deliver a comprehensive audit report. This not only provides commentary on where and when energy is being consumed, it also makes prioritised recommendations for capital projects and improved operational practices. This includes indicative pricing where appropriate, as well as payback periods and estimated annual savings in dollars, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Armed with these insights, orgnaisations can confidently go ahead with cost-effective solutions that will genuinely optimise energy usage and prepare them for the future.

On-bill financing options are available to eligible ERM retail customers across our entire Energy Solutions portfolio, including energy audits, so you can pay over time.
*ERM Business Energy conducts energy audits in line with these Australian Standards:
AS/NZS 3598.1 Energy Audits for Commercial Buildings
AS/NZS 3598.2 Energy Audits for Industrial and Related Activities
AS/NZS 3598.3 Energy Audits for Transport Related Activities
Each standard in turn includes three levels of audit:
Level 1 – basic energy audit
Level 2 – detailed energy audit
Level 3 – precision subsystem audit