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Industrial Energy Audit Basics by an Energy Auditor
The purpose of an energy audit is the first step in energy cost control. There are two types of energy audits - Traditional and Investment grades. The process of an energy audit consists of collecting and then processing data, specifying changes, and finally producing an action plan. Before visiting the site utility bills need to be obtained. Building information and weather data should be gathered and any information on major equipment should be gathered. When the auditor goes to the site, safety if of prime importance. Before starting a walk-thru, a meeting with plant managers and equipment operators should take place, then the collecting of data. After returning to the office the data is analyzed and energy conservation opportunities are developed and a report written. A Traditional energy audit is technical. It is a snapshot that assumes all conditions stay the same. It is about 75 percent accurate. It consists of all the steps above but its weaknesses is that it is focused on equipment, ignoring the human element, and is generic in its recommendations. No commitment is obtained from management and no measurement or verification is established. The Investment Grade audit is the Traditional audit plus Risk Assessment. It reduces uncertainty, increases consistency, and produces a 95 to 115 percent accuracy. It looks at ancillary equipment, provides a maintenance program, and looks at future plans. The Investment Grade audit considers the PEOPLE factor which includes management commitment, operator training, budget, and maintenance. It also considers Financial and Legal factors as well as Air Quality issues. Generally, utility bills should exceed $500,000 to justify an Investment Grade audit. Time is also an issue in that money is going out in fees and expenses and not coming in as savings. There must also be a project manager assigned to coordinate communications. The Investment Grade audit makes continuous commissioning and performance contracting possible. With the high cost of energy today, energy audits are a worthwhile consideration for any business. Know what is available in the market and who is qualified. You are loosing money every hour equipment is operating inefficiently.
Phillips, J. (2011). Industrial Energy Audit Basics by an Energy Auditor. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu); Texas A&M University (http://www.tamu.edu). Available electronically from