April 2, 2014 | Business Plans
Business owners routinely evaluate opportunities to reduce expenses. However, many organizations are unaware of the savings that can result from a business energy audit. Many of the savings from an energy audit are sustainable, and usually they are well received by employees and customers. Even better, your company may qualify for tax breaks for making energy-saving changes (consult with Filler & Associates for details).
In order to perform an effective energy audit on your Maine-based business, begin with the following ten steps:
- Calculate your baseline energy use by reviewing utility bills. Building energy expenses such as water, electricity, gas and solid waste should be collected for the previous three years. Any large variances should be identified and theories for the increase documented. There will be a physical inspection of your building, and this information will come in handy.
- Gather the specs. Compile basic information regarding a building’s specifications. These include things like square footage, any maintenance records, year of construction and blueprints, as well as the number of exterior versus interior walls.
- Document how your facilities are used. The operating hours as well as the frequency of visitors entering and leaving a building can play a role in energy consumption.
- Conduct an inventory of major systems. Documenting the major systems that consume energy is crucial to understanding how costs can be reduced. It may be possible to determine how much each one costs per year to run and maintain. It may also be possible to document on a percentage basis how much of the building’s total costs are attributable to each system. This analysis can serve as a baseline measure of how costs can be reduced.
- Prepare a list of office equipment. Even the smallest offices have office equipment that can generate considerable energy costs. There may also be a range of personal items that consume energy including fans, heaters, sound systems, and personal lighting.
- Find out where you have lighting that remains on. Your review should include whether the lights are turned off at night and weekends, as well as whether the building uses motion activated lighting in seldom-used areas such as restrooms or break rooms. Exterior security lighting can also be a waste as it is sometimes left on during the day. Document the number of exterior lights as well as when they turned on.
- Do you have exhaust fans? Kitchen and restroom fans may run while the building is not in use. Include a list of rooms that have exhaust fans and whether or not the fans are turned off when not in use. Also, ensure that the exhaust fan is appropriate for the size of the space that it is responsible for cleaning. A small or inefficient fan will consume electricity at a much higher rate than an appropriately sized unit.
- Interview staff members. The people that spend time in the building will undoubtedly have thoughts to share on the building’s environment.
- Check the level of insulation in your exterior walls, ceilings, floors and crawl spaces. Commercial buildings typically have a large number of windows and doors. Just like in your home, commercial properties should have the appropriate insulation around doors, windows and exterior walls. Further, windows that face the sun may be candidates for solar film to block the sun’s rays and reduce the need for air conditioning.
- Evaluate water usage. Over time the cost of the water wasted from a dripping faucet or toilet cistern can be considerable. The systems that use water to function should be identified and efforts made to ensure they are running efficiently and are regularly maintained. Don’t overlook outdoor water used in your company’s landscape.
Many utility companies perform on-site consultations of businesses and tell them how they can reduce use and save money. The steps above can also be performed by a suitably qualified company employee. Once the initial audit is complete, in order to dramatically improve a building’s energy efficiency, you may want to consider engaging a specialist to develop an energy efficient plan.