11 Sep How Businesses Can Save Money and Protect the Environment With an Energy Audit
An energy audit is a comprehensive assessment of a building’s energy use. It is used to identify areas where energy efficiency can be improved, and to determine the potential cost savings associated with those improvements. Energy audits are conducted by qualified professionals who evaluate the building’s current energy consumption, analyze its systems, and recommend ways to reduce energy usage and costs.
Definition and Benefits
Energy audits provide an in-depth look at how a building consumes energy, as well as what changes can be made to reduce that consumption. The audit process typically begins with an analysis of the building’s utility bills, followed by a physical inspection of the building. During this inspection, the auditor will look for areas where energy is being wasted or lost, such as air leaks or inefficient lighting fixtures. The auditor will also assess any existing equipment, such as heating and cooling systems, to determine if any upgrades or modifications should be made.
The cost of an energy audit depends on the size and complexity of the building, but generally ranges from $500-$5,000. This cost is typically offset by the savings resulting from implementing the recommended improvements.
In some cases, additional requirements may need to be met in order for an energy audit to be considered complete. These requirements could include obtaining permits or other documentation related to the building’s construction or operation. Additionally, some states may require that certain types of buildings undergo regular energy audits in order to meet state regulations.
Identifying Potential Health and Safety Risks
Energy audits are important for assessing the safety of a building’s energy systems. During an audit, potential health and safety risks can be identified and addressed to ensure the wellbeing of occupants.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when fuel is burned. It can build up to dangerous levels in poorly ventilated areas, leading to health problems such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and even death. An energy audit will identify any sources of carbon monoxide and suggest ways to improve ventilation or reduce CO levels.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into buildings through cracks in walls or foundations. Long-term exposure to radon can increase the risk of cancer. An energy audit will detect any potential radon leaks and recommend solutions such as sealing cracks in walls or installing a radon mitigation system.
Improved Thermal Envelope
The thermal envelope of a building is made up of its walls, windows, doors, roof, and other components that separate it from the outside environment. An energy audit will assess the condition of the thermal envelope and suggest improvements such as adding insulation or upgrading windows to reduce air leakage. This helps keep occupants safe by ensuring that their living space remains comfortable without wasting energy.
Protecting the Environment
Energy audits are an important tool for protecting the environment. They can help to reduce fossil fuel pollution and ensure a secure energy future.
Reducing Fossil Fuel Pollution
Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, are the primary sources of energy used in buildings today. Burning these fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change. An energy audit can identify areas where energy efficiency improvements can be made that will reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burned. This includes upgrading insulation, sealing air leaks, replacing inefficient appliances or equipment, or installing renewable energy systems such as solar panels or wind turbines.
Ensuring a Secure Energy Future
Energy audits can also help to ensure a secure energy future by helping building owners make informed decisions about how they use energy and what types of renewable energy systems would be most appropriate for their needs. By reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and increasing their use of renewable sources of energy, building owners can reduce their environmental impact while also saving money in the long run.
In addition to helping reduce fossil fuel pollution and ensuring a secure energy future, an energy audit can also provide valuable information about potential health and safety risks in a building. These risks include carbon monoxide leaks, radon leaks, and inadequate thermal envelopes that allow heat to escape in winter and cool air to escape in summer. By identifying these issues during an audit, building owners can take steps to address them before they become serious problems.
Overall, an energy audit is an important tool for protecting the environment by reducing fossil fuel pollution and ensuring a secure energy future. It is also beneficial for identifying potential health and safety risks in buildings so that they can be addressed before they cause harm.
Free or Reduced Price Energy Audits
The cost of an energy audit can be a significant barrier to those wishing to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. Fortunately, there are options available for free or reduced price energy audits.
Local Utility Company Programs
Many local utility companies offer free or discounted energy audits to customers as part of their commitment to reducing energy consumption in the community. These programs may include home visits from professionals who can identify areas for improvement, as well as provide advice on how to implement those improvements.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Programs
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of loan programs that can help cover the cost of an energy audit. These loans can be used for a variety of purposes related to improving energy efficiency, such as installing insulation, replacing windows, and updating lighting systems. The SBA also provides grants to small businesses that can be used towards the cost of an energy audit.
These programs are designed to make energy audits more accessible and affordable for those who need them most. By taking advantage of these options, individuals and businesses can reduce their costs while still making their properties more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Necessary Building Information for a Successful Audit
Having the right information is essential for a successful energy audit. It helps to ensure that the audit is as accurate and comprehensive as possible. The following are some of the key pieces of information that should be gathered before an energy audit:
Function and Floor Plans
The function and floor plans of the building should be obtained in order to accurately assess its energy use. This includes any changes or additions that have been made since the original construction. This will help the auditor determine how much energy is being used in each area and identify potential areas for improvement.
Orientation and Utility Bills
The orientation of the building should also be taken into consideration when conducting an energy audit. This will help determine which direction the building faces, how much sun exposure it receives, and what type of insulation is needed to keep the interior comfortable. Additionally, copies of recent utility bills should be obtained so that the auditor can get an idea of how much energy is being consumed on a regular basis.
Equipment List and Existing Issues
A list of all equipment in the building should be compiled, including any existing issues or problems with them. This will help the auditor identify any potential sources of wasted energy and suggest ways to reduce it. In addition, this list can provide insight into what types of upgrades may be necessary in order to improve efficiency.
Desired Updates and More
Finally, it is important to have a clear understanding of what updates are desired after the audit has been completed. This will help the auditor prioritize their recommendations in order to meet these goals while still staying within budget constraints. It may also be beneficial to discuss additional topics such as lighting options, ventilation systems, water usage, and more during this time.
Having all of this information readily available before an energy audit can help make sure that it is conducted efficiently and effectively. With this data in hand, auditors can quickly identify areas for improvement while providing cost-effective solutions that meet both short-term and long-term goals.
An energy audit is an important step in reducing energy costs, increasing safety, and protecting the environment. It is critical to have the necessary building information before starting an audit. This includes function and floor plans, orientation and utility bills, equipment list and existing issues, and desired updates.
There are many opportunities for free or reduced price energy audits through local utility companies or the Small Business Administration (SBA). It is important to be aware of potential health and safety risks such as carbon monoxide or radon leaks that can be identified through an audit. Finally, energy audits can help reduce fossil fuel pollution and ensure a secure energy future.
Overall, an energy audit is a beneficial process that should be taken seriously in order to save money, increase safety, and protect the environment.