Energy Auditing: Keep Track of your Energy Usage,Explained

by Umair Ahmad Khan

When Thanos in movie Avenger’s Infinity War said ” This universe is finite, its resources finite, if life is left unchecked, life will seize to exist”, he was right in one way. Resources in this earth, which we eat up everyday are finite, and someday we will run out of coal, natural gas and many other resources. So, what is the solution? Energy conservation. Consuming less energy to do big work. And that still is not the absolute solution, because someday resources will still dry out but slowly and there will be more time for scientists and engineers to discover and develop some means of free, unlimited energy or more accurately efficient recyclable energy source.

So, in order to do or commence on path of energy conservation, first we need to know how much energy we are consuming right now? This analysis can be home basis, individual industry basis or summing that upto national or international basis. The systematic process of evaluating that energy usage is called “Energy Audit”.

So what is Energy Audit? it is an inspection survey and analysis of flows of energy, for the purposes of energy conservation to reduce the amount of energy input, which negatively impacts the output, thus reducing overall energy usage efficiency.

Energy auditing is not just inspection of energy, but its purpose is to prioritize the energy uses according to more or less cost-effective opportunities to save energy.

TYPES OF ENERGY AUDITS:

The term “Energy Audit” is commonly used to describe a broad spectrum of energy studies, from quick walk-through inspections to identification  of major problem areas and much more. But overall, following six things are to be inspected in every energy audit, irrespective of facility or building nature:

1. Analysis of energy bills, utility data and installed equipments and appliances.

2. Inspection of real operating conditions.

3. Understanding of building’s behavior to climate, weather etc.

4. Selection of energy saving measures.

5. Estimation of energy saving potential.

6. Identification of customer concerns and his needs.

On basis of comprehensiveness of an energy audit report, the process can be divided into four levels according to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning engineers):

LEVEL 0 – Benchmarking : First inspection on the basis of energy utility bills and performance of target building with other similar buildings.

LEVEL 1 – Walk-through Audit:  Preliminary analysis done to inspect building’s energy efficiency to identify energy conservation measures. This inspection is based on visual inspection, study of installed equipments, operating data and energy consumption data obtained in level 0.

LEVEL 2- Detailed/General energy audit: It is a comprehensive analysis of studied installations in level 1 and also includes quantitative study of energy conservation measures. It mostly includes sophisticated computer simulations to obtain precise results.

LEVEL 3- Investment-Grade Audit: A detailed analysis of Capital concerned with energy conservation measures.

Also there are some specific audits like pollution audits that analyze greenhouse emissions.

PEFORMING ENERGY AUDITS:

There are two options for performing energy audits:

Hire a professional or do it yourself.

While audits done by professionals are best to determine energy losses in your home or business facility, one can always perform audits on their own. These DIY audits are not as thorough as professional audits but still they can give you good picture of areas where you can save energy.

Following steps you should take to perform a do-it-yourself energy audit:

1.DETECT LEAKS:  Inspect leakages in gas pipelines or if you have a heating system, inspect steam and air leakages. According to a study by US Department of Energy, 10-20% energy can be saved by proper sealings of leakages.

2.INSPECT VENTILATION: Always have good amount of fresh air indoor and be aware of indoor air pollution. In homes, where fuel is being burned, make sure it has abundant air supply for as complete as possible combustion. Generally, 1 square inch of vent opening is required for each 1000 Btu of appliance heat input. Burn marks around appliance’s burner generally represent poor air supply.

3. CHECK INSULATION: Heat loss through ceilings and walls can be large if insulation levels are not upto recommended levels. Inspect how much heat is leaking outside from stoves and heaters to outside environment rather than doing its job, which for heater to heat up the room not take out and for stove is to heat up the food, not throw heat to atmosphere.

4. INSPECT HEATING AND COOLING EQUIPMENT: Inspect heating and cooling equipments on annual basis. For both, perform load calculations of how much heating or cooling is needed by your house and determine if that requirement can be fulfilled by less energy consumption than it is already taking.

5. INSPECT YOUR WHOLE HOUSE_PLAN: After analyzing regions where you are losing energy, make a plan for saving energy by addressing following questions:

 a). How much money do you spend on energy?

 b). Where are your greatest energy losses?

 c). How long will it take for investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy savings cost?

 d). Can you do the job yourself or you need professional?

 e). What is your budget?

 f). How much time do you have for maintenance and repairs?

NOTE: Feel free to comment on posts and suggest any idea, concept or phenomenon that you want me to explain. Thanks

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