With so many energy efficiency solutions flooding the market, competition for your energy dollar is fiercer than ever.
It’s easy to be dazzled by the numbers of the latest sales pitch and jump into an energy efficiency investment. But if you do so without considering the bigger picture, you may be missing a trick, according to ERM Business Energy’s Digital Innovation and Advisory Lead Pete Tickler.
Energy efficiency has so many moving and interrelated parts. There are the building upgrades like solar PV, power factor correction equipment and lighting upgrades. But there are also all the operational tuning opportunities that can help businesses reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency simply by taking better care of existing infrastructure.
It’s when businesses look at these options in insolation that things can go awry and why so many businesses are now turning to energy audits.
“Energy audits provide a 360 degree view of where your energy spend is going. They look at everything, not just one energy efficiency solution in isolation. They list the estimated costs and potential returns for each option and provide a prioritised view, so you can make informed decisions based on your specific needs and budget.
“Take this public building for instance. 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 by half overnight. 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 of our recent energy audits uncovered a costly maintenance oversight for one of our customers in NSW. During our engineer’s site visit, he noticed the HVAC plant was operating in test mode following a maintenance visit by the contractor,” Pete remarked.
So what’s driving demand for Energy Audits?
While demand for energy audits has been largely driven out of concern for rising energy costs, audits are also becoming prerequisites for businesses wanting to access government energy rebate schemes.
“We’re also seeing more businesses incorporating regular energy audits into their overall energy management plan and using them as a vehicle for assessing emerging technologies. For example, while the battery storage hype has been electrifying, in reality they’re too expensive for many customers at the moment. Batteries will come down in price and when they do, an audit will help show if they are a viable option for your business when compared to other opportunities,” he said.
Aside from energy efficiency, audits have another positive by-product for businesses. In assessing where energy is being consumed, they highlight poor performance helping to identify maintenance issues or equipment approaching end of life.
What’s involved in getting an Energy Audit?
Organising an energy audit is easy and usually represents a small portion of the cost of implementing an energy efficiency project. ERM Business Energy provides an itemised quote upfront, based on the size and number of sites and the level of audit sought.*
“In our experience, Level 2 audits are appropriate for most businesses. Once given the green light, an onsite visit guided by someone who knows your property will help access all required areas.
“Our network of consultants are true energy efficiency experts with experience in multiple energy situations across a broad range of building types and industries.
“Starting at the main meter, they work downstream assessing energy loads, the equipment responsible for these loads and operational habits of the site. 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 point-in-time inspection with comprehensive desktop analysis, reviewing 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. ” he said.
At the end of this process, customers receive a comprehensive audit report. This report not only provides commentary on where and when energy is being consumed, it makes prioritised recommendations for capital projects and improved operational practices. It includes indicative pricing where appropriate, as well as payback periods and estimated annual savings in dollars, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Armed with knowledge from this energy audit report, businesses can be confident in getting the ‘best bang for your energy buck’ by going with the most practical and cost-effective solutions for your business.
To find out more about energy audits, contact your account manager or the Energy Solutions team at ERM Business Energy.
Remember 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 via your ERM electricity account.
*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