Did you grow up in a house where wearing an extra sweater was the solution to a cold house on a winter’s day? What about taking a short shower because hot water wasn’t cheap or turning off the light when leaving a room? I find it interesting that things we were “encouraged” to do as children have now become ways a household can become a little more green.
But let’s concentrate specifically on energy. Households and businesses can make significant strides to save energy, save money, and reduce emissions into the atmosphere. The best place to start – an Energy Audit.
Why would you want an energy audit of your home or business’s building? You can save money – a significant amount of it – as early as your next Hydro bill. In office buildings, for example, as much as 20% could be saved just by simple solutions that require little or no investment. Thirty percent is possible with limited investment and the investment often has a payback of about a year. Some companies have succeeded in making changes to their building and saved 40+% on annual energy costs.
Whether for a home, office building, retail outlet, factory or shop floor, the process is essentially the same. A certified engineer, technologist, or energy manager inspects the building or facility. This professional has been trained to identify opportunities to save energy through an analysis of your electricity bills and a walk-through inspection. In some complex cases, metering, testing and computer modeling may be required to determine actual annual energy consumption. An equipment list and information on how each piece of equipment is used, maintained and operated will round out your current or baseline picture.
The major areas that the energy manager will consider are:
- Building envelope (windows, doors, exterior walls)
- Heating, ventilation, air-conditioning system (HVAC)
- Electrical supply system
- Boiler and Steam System
- Hot Water System (Domestic)
- Compressed Air System
- Special Purpose Equipment
- Water and Sewer
One aspect that can be confusing to clients is the level of detail necessary to get the job done of identifying energy savings, and like most consultant services, energy audits can come in different sizes. Some agencies, like Hydro Quebec, offer homeowners an online question and answer tool which outputs information on how energy is being used and some recommendations on how to save energy and money. There is also a simple “walk-through” audit where the result is a list of items that a building owner may consider when attempting to improve the efficiency of his building. At the other end of the spectrum is an “investment grade” audit that would likely include in-depth baseline information, diagnostics, computer modelling, recommendations and engineering plans.
So if you want to cut costs and save money, an energy audit is the place to start. It will be good for the environment and great for your bottom line.