If you want your business to become more environmentally sustainable, carrying out an energy audit is an important first step and can have significant benefits.
Not only will it enable you to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment, but it'll also allow you to identify opportunities to save money and boost your brand reputation with customers and employees.
Find out all about business energy audits – from what an audit is and what it involves, to how you can get started and the support available.
What is a business energy audit?
A business energy audit is an assessment of how, when, and where your business uses energy. It looks at all aspects of your facilities and processes, from your building structure to the equipment you use and how your employees use energy. The audit will give you insight into areas where energy is being wasted and will highlight opportunities to reduce energy consumption, decrease your carbon footprint, and cut costs.
Large businesses are required by law to carry out energy audits, more information is available here.
Small and medium-sized firms, while not obliged to do it, are highly recommended to undertake one ahead of any decarbonisation or energy efficiency projects to ensure maximum cost and energy savings are realised for the business.
What does a typical energy audit include?
A typical energy audit will cover:
1. Assessing your current usage. This may include:
- Breakdown of energy usage by equipment or process.
- Benchmark of energy performance against similar premises or processes.
- Analysis of the building, services and controls.
2. Analysis, planning and calculating costs. This may include:
- Review of the energy management procedures, including maintenance.
- Identify energy and cost saving opportunities together with payback periods of the investment needed to implement the energy saving measures.
3. Creating an action plan. This may include:
- Prioritise no or low-cost opportunities through to larger capital investment opportunities and create business specific action plans.
- Recommendations on how to communicate changes to employees, allowing them to be involved in reducing the company’s overall carbon footprint.
Take a look at the full details of the energy audit output requirements through the Green Business Loan Scheme.
Who carries out an energy audit?
Depending on the level of exploration you wish to take, your business energy audit could be carried out by a certified energy auditor, a technology supplier, a third-party company, or even your own staff.
Before agreeing to work with a third party, it is important that you check they have a relevant qualification with a professional organisation in energy assessments or building energy audits. Examples of relevant qualifications include:
As an initial referral point you might want to visit the UK Government Energy Saving Opportunity scheme (ESOS) page list of assessors, or the Certified Energy Auditors.
What happens during an energy audit?
During an energy audit, the auditor will typically look at your company’s premises, equipment, systems, and processes to identify energy-saving opportunities. An effective audit will review all the different factors contributing towards your energy usage. Key areas of consideration may include:
This includes factors such as insulation on floors, walls, and roofs, and looking for any gaps around doors, vents, and windows
Energy consumption habits
For example, unplugging devices when they’re not in use and switching off lights when leaving a room
This could be electrical appliances such as printers and computers, as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems
The auditor will often provide an in-depth report on how your business uses energy, and they’ll make targeted recommendations on how you can reduce energy usage across your business and save money.
Will an energy audit disrupt business operations?
No. While site visit/s might be needed depending on your business’s operational set up, these aren't likely to disrupt your business as usual. The majority of the work will be done remotely, using energy data collected.
Why carry out an energy audit?
An energy audit is an important tool that can help you to identify and address areas of inefficiency and waste. This will enable you to reduce your carbon footprint and cut costs. Often an audit will reveal ‘quick wins’ where your business can immediately start saving money by taking easy, low to no-cost measures, such as changing employee behaviour or making simple changes to processes. Managing your energy usage ineffectively can have a sustained financial impact on your company and exposes your business to more risk, particularly with the current volatility in the energy market.
Offering sustainable and greener solutions is a routine expectation from customers nowadays. Being more competitive on price, through reducing your operational costs and showcasing innovation in your activities, can provide your business with a competitive advantage.
How can I get started?
There are a number of ways you can get started:
- Business Wales Resource Efficiency Advisors - To access free advice you may wish to engage with the resource efficiency team at Business Wales who'll be able to work with you to assess your headline energy activity and outline recommendations for the future. To find out more either call 0300 060 3000 or click here.
- Part-funded energy audit by a third party - For small and medium-sized businesses you may have the opportunity of accessing 50% match funding through the Green Business Loan Scheme offer to engage an independent Energy Auditor to take a ‘deep dive’ look at your energy usage and create a prioritised forward plan for your business. To find out more, please see the further guidance.
- Have an independent audit - For large businesses, or those not wishing to access the options above, sourcing an energy consultant to engage with independently may be the preferred route forward.
- Do your own assessment - For businesses with less complex operations, or those that have the expertise within their colleague base, you may decide you can undertake your own business assessment rather than a full independent energy audit. There are a number of organisations that give excellent tools and guidance to get you started, such as Carbon Trust and the SME Climate Hub.
What happens after I've completed my audit?
Once you've completed your energy audit, if you're clear on the installation, upgrade and /or technology route you wish to go with, then your next step is to find an accredited supplier to get a quote for the work. Your energy consultant/auditor may have recommended suppliers to approach. Alternatively, you may have contractors/suppliers you already work with who could deliver the work or may prefer to go out to the market.
Once you have a quote you're happy with you may want to look for external funding to help with the investment. There's an array of support offers available on the market, or you can access incentivised funding through the Green Business Loan Scheme.