Energy audit

Energy audit

An energy audit is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows in a building, process or system with the objective of understanding the energy dynamics of the system under study. Typically an energy audit is conducted to seek opportunities to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s). When the object of study is an occupied building then reducing energy consumption while maintaining or improving human comfort, health and safety are of primary concern. Beyond simply identifying the sources of energy use, an energy audit seeks to prioritize the energy uses according to the greatest to least cost effective opportunities for energy savings.

Home energy audit

An energy audit of a home may involve recording various characteristics of the building envelope including the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, and skylights. For each of these components the area and resistance to heat flow (R-value) is measured or estimated. The leakage rate or infiltration of air through the building envelope is of concern which are strongly affected by window construction and quality of door seals such as weatherstripping. The goal of this exercise is to quantify the building's overall thermal performance. A simplified approach called the UA delta-T method [] can be used for good approximate results. The audit may also assess the efficiency, physical condition, and programming of mechanical systems such as the heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, and thermostat.

A home energy audit may include a written report estimating energy use given local climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhang, and solar orientation. This could show energy use for a given time period, say a year, and the impact of any suggested improvements per year. The accuracy of energy estimates are greatly improved when the homeowner's billing history is available showing the quantities of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, or other energy sources consumed over a one or two-year period.

Some of the greatest effects on energy use are user behavior, climate, and age of the home. An energy audit may therefore include an interview of the homeowners to understand their patterns of use over time. The energy billing history from the local utility company can be calibrated using heating degree day and cooling degree day data obtained from recent, local weather data in combination with the thermal energy model of the building. Advances in computer-based thermal modeling can take into account many variables affecting energy use.

A home energy audit is often used to identify cost effective ways to improve the comfort and efficiency of buildings. In addition, homes may qualify for tax credits from local and central governments.

Industrial & agricultural energy audits

Increasingly in the last several decades, industrial and agricultural energy audits have exploded as the demand to lower increasingly expensive energy costs and move towards a sustainable future have made energy audit great

Types of energy audit

The term energy audit is commonly used to describe a broad spectrum of energy studies ranging from a quick walk-through of a facility to identify major problem areas to a comprehensive analysis of the implications of alternative energy efficiency measures sufficient to satisfy the financial criteria of sophisticated investors. Three common audit programs are described in more detail below, although the actual tasks performed and level of effort may vary with the consultant providing services under these broad headings. The only way to ensure that a proposed audit will meet your specific needs is to spell out those requirements in a detailed scope of work. Taking the time to prepare a formal solicitation will also assure the building owner of receiving competitive and comparable proposals.

Preliminary audit

The preliminary audit (alternatively called a simple audit, screening audit or walk-through audit) is the simplest and quickest type of audit. It involves minimal interviews with site-operating personnel, a brief review of facility utility bills and other operating data, and a walk-through of the facility to become familiar with the building operation and to identify any glaring areas of energy waste or inefficiency.

Typically, only major problem areas will be uncovered during this type of audit. Corrective measures are briefly described, and quick estimates of implementation cost, potential operating cost savings, and simple payback periods are provided. This level of detail, while not sufficient for reaching a final decision on implementing a proposed measures, is adequate to prioritize energy-efficiency projects and to determine the need for a more detailed audit.

General audit

The general audit (alternatively called a mini-audit, site energy audit or complete site energy audit) expands on the preliminary audit described above by collecting more detailed information about facility operation and by performing a more detailed evaluation of energy conservation measures. Utility bills are collected for a 12 to 36 month period to allow the auditor to evaluate the facility's energy/demand rate structures and energy usage profiles. If interval meter data is available, the detailed energy profiles that such data makes possible will typically be analyzed for signs of energy waste [] . Additional metering of specific energy-consuming systems is often performed to supplement utility data. In-depth interviews with facility operating personnel are conducted to provide a better understanding of major energy consuming systems and to gain insight into short and longer term energy consumption patterns. This type of audit will be able to identify all energy-conservation measures appropriate for the facility, given its operating parameters. A detailed financial analysis is performed for each measure based on detailed implementation cost estimates, site-specific operating cost savings, and the customer's investment criteria. Sufficient detail is provided to justify project implementation.

Investment-grade audit

In most corporate settings, upgrades to a facility's energy infrastructure must compete for capital funding with non-energy-related investments. Both energy and non-energy investments are rated on a single set of financial criteria that generally stress the expected return on investment (ROI). The projected operating savings from the implementation of energy projects must be developed such that they provide a high level of confidence. In fact, investors often demand guaranteed savings.

The investment-grade audit (alternatively called a comprehensive audit, detailed audit, maxi audit, or technical analysis audit) expands on the general audit described above by providing a dynamic model of energy-use characteristics of both the existing facility and all energy conservation measures identified. The building model is calibrated against actual utility data to provide a realistic baseline against which to compute operating savings for proposed measures. Extensive attention is given to understanding not only the operating characteristics of all energy consuming systems, but also situations that cause load profile variations on short and longer term bases (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, annual). Existing utility data is supplemented with submetering of major energy consuming systems and monitoring of system operating characteristics.


Energy audits initially became popular in response to the energy crisis of 1973 and later years. Interest in energy audits has recently increased as a result of growing understanding of human impact upon global warming and climate change.

ee also

Building energy rating systems:
*Australia - House Energy Rating
*Canada - EnerGuide
*UK - National Home Energy Rating
*US - Home energy rating


* Clark, William. (1998) Retrofitting for energy conservation. Mc Graw Hill. ISBN: 0-07-011920-1
* Thumann, Albert. (1998). Handbook of Energy Audits. Edit. The Fairmont Press. ISBN: 0-88173-294-X

External links

* [ US Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency]
* [ Energy Star: Home Energy Audits]
* [ The Building Performance Institute]
* [http://www.energyauditdirectory/ Directory of Energy Audit Organizations]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • energy audit — UK US noun [C] ENVIRONMENT, SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ► an examination of a building to find out how much energy is being used in it and if changes could be made in order to use less: »After a two day energy audit of his factory, his $2.5 million… …   Financial and business terms

  • Energy audit —   A program carried out by a utility company in which an auditor inspects a home and suggests ways energy can be saved.   U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Administration s Energy Glossary …   Energy terms

  • Energy Audit —   A survey that shows how much energy you use in your house or apartment. It will help you find ways to use less energy …   Energy terms

  • energy audit — a technical check of energy use, as in a home or factory, to monitor and evaluate consumption. [1975 80] * * * …   Universalium

  • energy audit — noun an assessment of the energy needs and efficiency of a building or buildings …   English new terms dictionary

  • energy audit — en′ergy au dit n. cvb ene a technical check of energy use, as in a home or factory, to monitor and evaluate consumption • Etymology: 1975–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • energy audit — Process of accurately determining the current energy consumption for a given area …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • energy audit — a technical check of energy use, as in a home or factory, to monitor and evaluate consumption. [1975 80] …   Useful english dictionary

  • Energy management practices —   Involvement, as a part of the building s normal operations, in energy efficiency programs that are designed to reduce the energy used by specific end use systems. This includes the following EMCS, DSM Program Participation, Energy Audit, and a… …   Energy terms

  • Audit — (energy)   The process of determining energy consumption, by various techniques, of a building or facility …   Energy terms