The Role of an Energy Auditor

Date Added: August 30, 2008 12:16:43 AM
Author: Ricky Johanssen
Category: Energy Auditing
THE ROLE OF THE ENERGY AUDITOR

Before most people will take action, they will want reliable information on what they should do, why they should do it, and how they should go about doing it.  They must also be motivated to take the action.  It often happens that we know what we should do, and know how to do it, but take no action simply because we are not motivated.  As an energy auditor, your job is to motivate the resident to take action by providing him/her with information in a credible manner.

An auditor is actually a salesperson, marketing conservation and renewable energy resources, offering people a way to control energy consumption.  A good audit, like a good sales presentation, accomplishes at least three tasks:

-An Energy Auditor establishes a positive atmosphere – The customer should be comfortable and what to hear what you have to say.  People will not buy anything if they are made to feel uncomfortable, guilty, or ignorant.

-An Energy Auditor presents a strong case – Present your information in a positive, constructive, and understandable way.  Present clear facts (this wall has no insulation), explain the results of the fact simply (you are losing heat through this wall), then discuss what this means to the customer (it is costing more to heat or cool the house than it needs to).

-An Energy Auditor closes the sale.  If you were actually selling a product, you would try to get a signed sales agreement.  At the end of the audit process, ask if the resident needs more information in order to apply the measures appropriate to the building.  Ask what their next step will be.  These questions will encourage them to make a commitment to take action as a result of the information you have given them.

ENERGY AUDITOR ROLE 1 – TO MOTIVATE

When it was less expensive to buy the energy required to keep people warm in the winter and cool in the summer, to transport them where they wanted to go and to run the machines they owned, it was therefore less expensive, to do things conveniently and to use energy carelessly.  The situation is different now.  People are beginning to recognize the problems surrounding both the cost and availability of energy.

Though they still quite naturally want and are motivated to be comfortable, to have things convenient, and to enjoy the good life however they define it, they are experiencing a wet of new motivations to use energy more efficiently.  Some of these are described below.

-Economics- The rising cost of energy for goods and services is an increasingly important consideration for most people.  Money saved on energy can be redirected to other uses.

-National Spirit- With large numbers of dollars leaving the country to purchase energy from abroad, the idea of working together to solve a national crisis may be an engendering a new nationalism, and a strong incentive to cut energy waste.

-Environmental consideration- a deep concern about energy-related dangers to the environment and to health has heightened energy consciousness.  Reducing the demand for energy production is one way to reduce potential environmental damage.

-Self-reliance- a desire to exert some degree of control over our lives leads many to take conservation actions that can markedly alter and reduce the power others have over them. As an auditor you will be selling the idea of self-management, a concept different from conservation.  While conservation is a negative idea in general, self-management relies on positive persuasion and appears to be more effective at stimulating people to take action.  As an auditor trying to motivate people to take action, you will be more effective if you dwell on the benefits of taking that action rather than the consequences of not.

ENERGY AUDITOR ROLE 2 – TO INFORM

Even the most motivated person cannot take action until, and unless, he or she knows what actions are possible and appropriate.  The second part of the job is to provide information about current energy consumption, management practices and measures applicable and information on costs and savings related to those decisions.

Current Energy Consumption- Most people realize they are spending a considerable amount of their money on energy.  But only a few will be able to say exactly how much, and even fewer have any idea of where the energy is going.  The key to residential energy management lies in the fact that since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, a necessary balance between the energy that comes into the home, the energy consumed in the home, and the energy that goes out of the home must be maintained.

Cost and Savings- Most people make decisions based on cost and money.  What will it cost? And how much can be saved? Unfortunately these questions are not as simple to answer as they might first appear.  Costs are constantly changing, usually upward.  And cost estimates depend on whether the occupant can do the job alone or must hire help to get it done, and on whether they will need to borrow money for the work.  Although it is possible to calculate savings for individual practices and measures, it is difficult to project accurately the overall effect of combining a number of measures.  Some decisions require an estimate of the future costs of various types of purchased energy, a problem somewhat more difficult than weather forecasting with nothing more than today’s weather information.  The potential savings of any measure will depend on the effect of other measures have had on reducing energy consumption.

As an auditor you will need as much up-to-date information on local costs as you can, and you should work on perfecting an ability to estimate savings.  It will be more effective to provide the resident with information on how to gather and assess economic information than to try to give pat answers to difficult problems.  You should, however be able to provide general information on costs, savings, and financing.

To provide the resident with accurate information on cost, possible savings, and other economic aspects, you will first have to make an analysis of the resident’s home and patterns of energy consumption.  It is convenient to analyze residential energy use in terms of four elements:
Envelope- The protective shell, consisting of the foundation, floors, walls, ceilings, and roof of the residence.  The shell separates the outside environment from the inside, conditioned (heated or cooled) environment.
Openings- There are doors and windows to make the interior of the envelope accessible.  There are also chimneys, vents, fans, and hundreds of other openings in and around doors and windows in the envelope.
Systems- Within each home is a number of independent but interrelated energy-consuming systems. These include heating, cooling, hot water, electrical and ventilation.
Use- Identical homes can have widely differing energy demands, depending on the way the residents use the home.  Furnishings, appliances, and the very lifestyle of the residents influence the energy use.

ENERGY AUDITOR ROLE 3 – TO BE CREDIBLE

The job of the auditor is to provide information and motivate action, but neither of these aspects of the job will be possible unless he first establishes and maintains credibility in the eyes of the resident.  Information is only believable if the source is believable.  Your credibility as a source of information will depend in part on three factors:

Your Appearance- People judge one another by their clothing and their grooming. You should be neat, presentable, and promote a professional image.  Think you would feel if someone came to your home to do an energy audit.  What would you expect them to look like?

Your Actions- What you do while conducting the audit can add or detract from your credibility.  If you have to begin by reading the instructions for a tape measure or blower door, don’t expect the information you provide to be taken seriously.  Your actions should be appropriate, considerate of the residents and their property, and professional in nature.

Your Knowledge- you don’t have to know everything about all details of an envelope, openings, and systems, but you should know something about them.  Nobody will mind your saying “I’m not sure” especially if you promise to check into it and report back to them. However the quality of the information you provide and your ability to answer questions and explain what you are doing and finding will do much to increase your reliability and the believability of the information you provide.

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