#1. Energy Audit: why bother?

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#1. Energy Audit: why bother?

What is energy audit?

Energy audit is a consulting project that finds out how your plant can maintain stable production and quality, while using less utilities – electricity, natural gas and water. An audit worth its fees relies on extensive direct measurements, detailed interviews with production and maintenance managers and comparison of energy consumption levels with other companies (energy use benchmarking). A team of engineers evaluates how possible energy efficiency measures affect utility consumption.

Energy Audit results in a list of possible projects with their estimated investments and expected savings. Action on recommendations creates value in form of cost savings, increased production and quality.

How will my company benefit from an energy audit?

Energy Audit creates a map of saving opportunities and their possible cross effects. This allows creation of plans, programs, budgets.

What’s more, putting all possible energy efficiency measures on the table often creates an opportunity to save even more: order of implementation can create additional financial savings.

Here is an example from a recent audit project: When reject heat from retrofitted compressor room was directed to the production floor, a new heating system could be designed to meet a lower heating load, thus financial effect came from natural gas savings and lower CAPEX on heating system retrofit.

Complex energy audit is an easy way to identify highly-profitable projects.

What do I risk by not doing an energy audit?

By deciding to not do an energy audit, a company effectively makes one of two decisions:

  1. To pay extra to energy company and receive no value in return, aka waste energy
  2. To pay extra to equipment vendors

All companies receive endless calls from vendors of various energy efficient machines – boilers, compressors, motors, VFDs. How shall plant manager decide on which project to choose? In what order? How will proposed project affect performance of other machines?

A complex independent audit helps answer all these questions. Risk has financial value, just ask your CFO.

How to make an energy audit free?

Some vendors offer a free energy audit. Why pay for a consulting service when a free option is here?

As a free lunch, a free energy audit is never free.

When vendor performs an audit, their interest is finding a way to justify procurement of their equipment. Asking vendor’s advice on procurement of their equipment is like asking a car dealer if it’s a good time to change your car. The answer is ‘now’.

An audit can be effectively free if you act on it.

In addition to a list of investment-based energy efficiency projects, a good energy audit produces a list of low/no cost recommendations to reduce energy cost. Typically, financial effect of implementing these recommendations exceeds audit fee and necessary investments. In our recent energy audit at manufacturing plant, a cumulative investment of $10K resulted in $84K of annual savings. Action was the key to making audit free.

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