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 quickly and effectively identifies and delivers cost-saving energy-efficiency behaviours and facility upgrades for your company. Ensure the service offered by a consultant is in accordance with the appropriate Australian standards and try to get quotes from more than one consultant to compare.

Ask if your consultant can provide any testimonials or referees from previous clients you can review, industry accreditations or peer group recognition for successful implementations.

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 is costing you, and then 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 3598:2000 for Energy Audits.

ecoBiz program for business

If you would like to improve your organisation's energy, water or waste management, an option is to utilise 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?

Ideally, the energy auditor should be experienced in energy efficiency techniques and technologies as well be able to understand your general business processes. It is worth enquiring what types and sizes of organisations they have conducted audits for, how long they have been in business for, and what savings their clients have achieved.

The energy auditor should not have a vested interest in the outcomes of the energy audit.

Australian/New Zealand Standard Energy Audits: 3598:2000

Level 1 Audit

A Level 1 Audit, sometimes called an overview, is an evaluation of the overall energy usage of the site to determine whether energy usage is reasonable or excessive. It provides initial benchmarks of the site so that the effect of energy measures can be tracked and evaluated.

It may be in the form of a desktop study; however the information given to, or gathered by, the auditor needs to be sufficient to enable the overall level of efficiency of the site to be determined.

A Level 1 Audit is expected to give just an overview, which provides rough orders of savings and costs. Accuracy of figures would generally be within ±40%. This means that the report provided will guarantee you will achieve the savings within 40% of the recommended amount, which could be above or below that figure.

Level 2 Audit

A Level 2 Audit identifies the sources of energy to the site, the amount of energy supplied, and what the energy is used for. It also identifies areas where savings may be made, recommends measures to be taken, and provides a statement of costs and potential savings.

A Level 2 Audit is an energy use survey, which is expected to provide a preliminary assessment of costs and savings. Accuracy of figures would generally be within ±20%.

Level 3 Audit

A Level 3 Audit provides a detailed analysis of energy usage, the savings that can be made, and the cost of achieving those savings. It may cover the whole site or it may concentrate on an individual item, such as a single industrial process or one of the services. The auditor may often employ a specialist to carry out specific parts of an audit or may need to install local metering and logging. The report from a Level 3 audit often forms the justification for substantial investment by the owner or an energy performance contractor. Detailed economic analysis with an appropriate level of accuracy is required.

A Level 3 Audit is expected to provide a firm estimate of savings and costs. Accuracy of figures would be within +10% for costs and -10% for benefits.

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.
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