Don’t order an energy audit until you’ve read this

Before you read on, you should consider: What to think about when investing in an energy audit? When is the right time to commission one? And what should you prepare before making the call?

With the introduction of the Government’s new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) this year, as part of the implementation of Article 8 of EU Energy Efficiency Directive, every large enterprise in the UK will need to complete an energy audit before 5 December 2015. This audit will also have to be repeated every four years.

On top of this, rising energy costs and increased pressure to reduce carbon emissions in the UK mean that it is worthwhile considering whether to carry out an energy audit to identify opportunities to make significant energy savings.

However there are a number of points to consider before investing in such an audit.

What’s the biggest mistake you can make when investing in an energy audit?

Thinking of it as an end in itself. Any time you make an investment, it’s important to be able to place it within the bigger picture. An energy audit is no different. The audit should be considered as just a starting point for developing your organisation's longer term energy strategy.

Let's assume your key business risks are financial, operational or sustainability-related. Managing your organisation's energy consumption is an important way of managing these risks. And to manage energy consumption, you need to understand how your business consumes energy and what the opportunities are to optimise this. That’s what an energy audit can show you.

An energy audit is most valuable when it is answering specific questions and there is a clear list of requirements that need to be met. Otherwise you run the risk of paying for a list of recommendations you can't use.

The energy savings on offer will look promising, but on closer investigation, you may well find that factors the auditors weren’t aware of – budgets, schedules or investment criteria, for example – mean they’re not feasible for your business.

In order to avoid this happening here is a list of suggestions of some of the things you should consider when preparing for an energy audit:

1. Determine the key drivers of energy-related investment in your organisation. For example, is it considered more important to reduce carbon emissions or to save money?

2. Set goals for the projects you’re considering. How much energy must your proposed project save your organisation each year in order to be considered worthwhile? Then the audit can tell you, not just whether an initiative could reduce energy consumption, but also whether the potential reduction meets your specific requirements.

3. Involve key decision-makers in the process. Think of all those that may be involved in a stage of the process. Secure their buy-in before the audit takes place, so that once the audit shows you which initiatives to prioritise, you can start getting them implemented straight away.

4. Identify any requirements and restrictions set by your business. Are investments expected to pay back over a certain period? Does the organisation have a policy of investing in particular technologies, or with particular technology partners?

Once you’ve gathered all that information, you will be better prepared to order an energy audit.

Posted by Daniel Bentham, Head of R&D Smart Customers at EDF Energy

Dan Bentham MEng CEng MEI Chartered Energy Engineer, has worked in the low carbon energy sector for over 10 years. He is currently responsible for the research and development of future energy systems and technologies such as Smart Cities, Smart Grids, Smart Businesses, Smart Metering, Connected Homes, Low Carbon Transport and Energy Storage for the UK market.


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