Often, words or phrases we hear conjure-up ideas that are clearly different than their actual meaning. Case and point comes from a question we hear a lot: What is the difference between an energy audit and a utility bill audit?
Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
ENERGY AUDITS ARE PHYSICAL
An energy audit always involves a visit to your facility. This visit is referred to as a walk through and is usually conducted by an individual, or individuals as pictured above, in the energy field, who can evaluate the efficiency of your business’s energy use. With an energy audit, the auditor will physically walk through a location and point out areas where energy is being wasted.
ENERGY AUDITS VARY BY DEPTH
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineer (ASHRAE), a nonprofit organization that develops and publishes the standards of the industry, defines three different levels of energy audits dependent on project restrictions set by the client and site potential. Regardless of audit depth, all energy audits aim to:
- Establish a baseline for energy consumption
- Measure energy usage according to its isolated roles
- Benchmark with facilities and variables alike
- Identify energy cost reduction opportunities
UTILITY BILL AUDITS START AND END WITH THE INVOICE
A utility bill audit will never involve an intrusive walk through or physical review of any kind. Typical utility bill audits start with an initial audit review based on one recent billing statement. The auditor will then determine whether there are any billing errors present and if a detailed audit is recommended. This initial audit process is complete in 24-48 hours. From there, a good, thorough utility bill auditor will:
- Work directly with your service provider to collect paperwork
- Correct all billing errors, saving you money monthly
- Request a refund from your utility provider for over-billing
- Only get paid AFTER you’ve been credited with the refund
UTILITY BILL AUDITS GO BEYOND ENERGY SAVINGS
Electric and gas statements contain the most billing errors. However, there are other utilities and specialty services that a utility bill auditor can analyze to determine cost saving and refund opportunities. Utility bill audits for waste removal and procurement, for instance, can deliver monthly cost reductions sometimes up to 60%. Other utility bill audits include telecom audits, merchant processing audits, shipping audits, and workers compensation audits.
Both energy audits and utility bill audits offer unique cost saving opportunities. But the key difference between an energy audit and a utility bill audit is within the qualification process. Energy audits require physical visit—utility bill audits can be done from anywhere in the world. Also, it’s important that utility bill audits are flexible and can look at many facets of a business’s operations. This opens doors for serious cost saving opportunities beyond the energy bill.