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Choosing an energy efficiency consultant

An energy efficiency consultant could be your first step to saving money on your electricity bills. We’ve provided a guide below to help you work out what you need to know.

The following information is not meant to replace the process and procedures laid down by Australian standards.

Look for a company that has experience in successfully working with similar organisations and can demonstrate they have knowledgeable and suitably qualified staff. Ask if the consultant can provide any testimonials or referees from previous clients you can review, industry accreditations or peer group recognition for successful implementations.

As a minimum, energy consultants should have relevant electrical/engineering and/or trade qualifications as well as relevant experience in energy auditing and energy management. The key industry qualification, known as the Certified Energy Manager, is also desirable especially for larger, complex operations.

When seeking quotes be sure and qualify what the report will consist of, how long it will take and what resources and timing they will require of you and your staff to establish the review. Also, don’t be scared to ask how long they will take to deliver the report to you and ensure all information presented to them will be kept confidential.

Energy audits

Having an energy audit conducted, often referred to as an “opportunity evaluation”, is a great way to find out how you could reduce your energy use and electricity bills.

An energy audit will identify how and where energy (usually electricity and gas) is being used, how much it's costing you and what energy cost and usage control measures can be implemented. These measures may include simple changes in behaviour like:

  • turning off certain appliances
  • low cost initiatives like switching out light bulbs and installing sensors
  • installing new technologies such as central chiller air-conditioning units and solar photovoltaic which require substantial capital investment with a pay-back period of several years.

If you don’t have the technical expertise within your business, we encourage the use of accredited energy efficiency consultants who conduct independent energy audits in accordance with the Australian/New Zealand Standard 3598:2014. 

ecoBiz program for business

If you'd like to improve your organisation's energy, water or waste management, an option is to use the services of the Queensland Government funded ecoBiz program. ecoBiz is a free program run by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland that helps businesses save thousands of dollars across their power, water and waste bills. The program provides a number of tools, workshops and webinars to help businesses monitor usage and identify areas for improvement.

When should an energy audit be conducted?

An energy audit will achieve the best results when your business is committed to making changes and financially able to act on the recommendations.

Who should carry out an energy audit?

The energy auditor should be independent and not have a vested interest in the outcomes of the energy audit, for example through selling of equipment or services that are recommended.

Australian/New Zealand Standard Energy Audits: 3598:2014

The Australian Standard for energy audits is a series of standards focused on particular industry sectors:

For commercial building and industrial and related activities, the Standard describes 3 types of energy audits.

A Type 1 audit is a basic energy audit which is typically suited for smaller sites with lower energy expenditures.

A Type 2 audit is a detailed energy audit that provides detailed analysis of energy performance to quantify the full range of opportunities for a site.

A Type 3 audit is a detailed audit of specific subsystems, with additional data gathering and measurement to provide a high level of accuracy.

It's not essential to have an audit that strictly adheres to the Australian Standard. It's just as important to ensure that the scope of the energy audit is agreed up front and you chose an energy auditor who has the skills and experience to properly assess your site and come up with suitable recommendations.

Energy audit process

  1. Collection of energy related data
  2. End-use energy apportioning
  3. Identifying energy saving measures
  4. Estimating implementation costs and energy savings of energy saving measures
  5. Writing an energy audit report.

Audit levels tasks

Level 1 Audit

Accuracy of figures would generally be within ±40%.

  • Gather data
  • Site wide energy use on an annual basis
  • Derive a performance indicator
  • Broad conclusions and recommendations
  • Written report.

Level 2 Audit

Accuracy of figures would generally be within ±20%.

  • Gather data
  • Site investigation
  • Detailed site energy input and energy use
  • Reconciliation of energy accounts with loads
  • Variation on a month-by-month basis
  • Energy performance indicators
  • Detailed recommendations including costs and savings
  • Implementation priorities and plan
  • Align recommendations and client’s energy program
  • Full written report.

Level 3 Audit

Accuracy of figures would be within +10% for costs and -10% for benefits.

  • Gather data
  • Define site/process being audited
  • Site/process investigation
  • Detailed metering down to half-hourly time interval
  • Derive target energy use
  • Detailed recommendations including cost, saving and accuracy of estimates
  • Detailed investment analysis
  • Detailed implementation plan
  • Suggest refinements to energy policy and energy program
  • Written report plus presentation.