20 Common Problems Found During Energy Audits

As we inspect customers' facilities to identify opportunities for energy and cost reduction, we often find the same problems, many of which have simple and inexpensive solutions.

The best opportunities for saving energy usually involve small changes in operation or maintenance and cost little money to implement.

  1. Lights are left on, sometimes for reasons as simple as there is no easy-access light switch.
  2. Incandescent lights are used instead of more efficient options.
  3. Exit signs use incandescent bulbs. Exit signs are on 24 hours a day, and many exit signs use two 20-watt incandescent bulbs. LED exit signs use less than 1 watt per hour and can shine 25 years without bulb replacement.
  4. Timers for outdoor lighting become inaccurate over time.
  5. Equipment is left on when not in use.
  6. Computers don't use power management settings to reduce usage when the computer is not being used.
  7. Water heaters are set warmer than necessary. If hot water is used for hand washing only, set the water heater to 105 degrees F or 110 degrees F.
  8. Hot water is leaking from faucets and stuck open valves.
  9. HVAC system runs after hours. Programmable thermostats can help.
  10. Employees frequently adjust thermostats.
  11. Filters for heating and cooling systems are not inspected and replaced frequently.
  12. HVAC ducts leak. If conditioned air leaks out of the duct, it's not going where it needs to. If outside air enters ductwork, you pay more to condition the air.
  13. The outdoor HVAC unit is obstructed. Keep bushes and other materials away from outdoor units so air can circulate. Also, fire ants are drawn to these units and their mounds can clog coils.
  14. Multiple systems "fight" each other. Many buildings are conditioned by more than one system. Adjust thermostats and controls to avoid having one unit heat space while another tries to cool it.
  15. The thermostat is not sensing the true room temperature. If the thermostat is near an outside door, near a hot machine or hidden behind a coat rack, its reading may be inaccurate.
  16. Insulation is inadequate. Adding insulation above a ceiling, in an attic, or insulating process equipment is inexpensive and can produce a good return on investment.
  17. Insulation is disturbed. Over time, service technicians working on equipment or installing systems like phone lines or network cables have disturbed insulation, leaving gaps.
  18. Air leaks through gaps and inadequate weather-stripping. Loading dock doors often lack door seals or seals that reduce infiltration when a truck is at the dock.
  19. Holes, gaps and cracks allow air leakage. Many commercial buildings aren't well sealed around doors; windows; where pipes and conduits pass through walls; and where the walls meet the floor slab.
  20. Doors left open. There may be a large overhead door that is raised each time you throw a box into the compactor or the door closer that doesn't always completely shut the door.