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How to produce the Worlds Best Energy Audit Report - And avoid it

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How to produce the World's Best
Energy Audit Report
- And avoid it ending up in the bin!
Producing a great report can be a critical success factor in building a successful Energy Management
Business – getting it wrong can be a very, very, expensive missed opportunity. Firstly you have to ask
yourself �what constitutes a good energy audit report’? And how can I make mine �The Best’?
Is the best: …the one with the most colourful pictures?
…is it the one with the most technical information?
…is it from the person with the most letters after their name?
…or the one that stands out on the table because it’s the thickest?
Surely, it must be the one that breaks the energy costs for every appliance down into the smallest
decimal point!
WRONG…
The �Best Energy Audit in the World’ is the one that the customer understands and confidently acts on
and thereafter enjoys the benefits of making substantial cost savings, improved efficiency and
reduced maintenance year after year - it’s a successful business proposal that you profit from as well.
Sadly most Energy Audits end up in the bin. Quite likely they will be handed around from department
to department for a while 5 awaiting their final destiny.
Energy Audits don’t benefit the provider or the customer unless the recommendations are
implemented. Audit reports should be designed to encourage implementation, but often they
impede it instead. The goal in writing an audit report should not be the report itself; rather, it should be
to achieve implementation of the report recommendations and thus achieve increased energy
efficiency and energy cost savings for the customer.
The objective is to answer the following questions for the customer in a �user friendly’
way: 1. Where am I right now with my energy usage? – The problems.
2. What am I trying to achieve? –The targets.
3. What are the choices open to me, and what are the risk/benefit options? – The solutions.
4. Which is the best course to take all things being considered? – Action.
If you can present the options for you customer in terms of your professional recommendations and at
the same time give them supporting evidence to back up your statements this will add weight to what
you are proposing.
If you can then present these best options in such a way that the cost or investment required to
implement the recommendations is covered entirely by the saving being generated and then
guarantee the results so as to remove any risk… then you have just produced �The World’s Best Energy
Audit’ for your client and it will be far less likely to end up in the bin!
You need to keep your objective clear in mind. There are two goals when producing an Energy Audit.
1. Your first goal is to provide your clients with the facts necessary to make informed decisions
about your report recommendations.
2. Your second goal, which is as important as the first, is to interest your clients in implementing
as many of your recommendations as possible.
A user-friendly audit report will help you to achieve both goals. Put simply your Audit report is a
comprehensive �proposal’ for your customer to spend more money with you on your recommended
energy saving products.
So what is a �user friendly’ report?
People generally think of the term �user-friendly’ related to something like a computer program. A
program that is user-friendly is one that helps you use it with a minimum of difficulty. We apply the
same term to audit reports to mean a report that communicates its information to the user (reader)
with a minimum amount of effort on the reader's part. We operate on the belief that a reader who is
busy will not want to spend his/her valuable time struggling to understand what the report is trying to
say. If the report is not clear and easy to follow, the reader is likely to set it down to read later, and
�later’ may never come!
Let’s consider a few facts from the experts in this field: True of false?
ALL people make buying decisions based on emotion… Not logic.
Yes, this is really, actually true. Engineers, accountants, executives, attorneys, housewives, and
ministers - and butchers, bakers and candlestick makers - We all fundamentally make all of our
decisions based on emotion, not logic.
Logic supports our emotions and is used to justify our decisions after we have made them. Logic plays
a part, but emotion is the core ingredient.
Some people think emotion has no place in business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Those people are
likely to tell you that your �report’ should be 'just the facts sir.'
Sorry: They're absolutely, 100% totally dead wrong.
You can use those people to write instruction manuals and employee handbooks, but keep them out
of your sales and marketing department. This sort of thinking is exactly why most business-to-business
communication is so DULL.
The Cardinal Sin in writing audits or proposals is to be boring!
OK, so how do you use emotion in an Energy Audit?
Try to begin with the conversation that's inside the reader's head - right now.
There is an emotional reason why the person agreed to this audit in the first place5
What is it?
What are they irritated about?
What are they worried about?
What opportunity are they trying to capitalize on?
If that person were to launch into a rant right now, what would they say?
You're not done yet. Once you've reinforced the conversation inside their head take it a step further.
Tell them about even more problems they'll have if they don't consider all of the data. Tell a horror
story or two, if that's appropriate. Point out a few more problems they probably haven't thought of
yet. Mentally walk with them through their problems and the consequences of doing nothing.
How do you do that?
Know your audience. The first thing to keep in mind when you start to write anything is to know your
audience – their personalities and their needs and tailor your report to that audience. When writing a
commercial or industrial audit report, your report may be read only by the owner operator; on the
other hand your readers can range from the company president to the head of maintenance. If
recommendations affect a number of groups in the company, each group leader may be given a
copy of the report. Thus, you may have persons of varying backgrounds and degrees of education all
looking at the report. Not all of them will necessarily have a technical background. The primary
decision maker may not be an engineer; the person who implements the recommendations may not
have a college degree.
The Energy Audit is a more comprehensive version of the initial sales proposal you used to secure your
client in the first place. The format is �similar’ only more comprehensive with several sections within the
folder for you to include all the technical date to back up your recommendations – the objective is of
course the same… to secure business.
Start with an executive summary, which briefly describes your recommendations and tabulates your
results such as the energy and dollar savings and the simple payback times. Highlight the benefits
achieved thus far with the EnergyMaps programme and the targets that you believe can be
achieved.
Follow that with a brief description of your recommendations and provide details on all of the
products and solutions offered in the �products’ section of your folder.
You will also need to provide a detailed section that we call the technical supplement. This section of
your report includes the calculations that support your recommendations and any specific
information relating to implementation.
Use a simple, direct writing style. Technical writers often feel compelled to write in a third-person,
passive, verbose style. Because energy audit reports are technical in nature, they often reflect this
writing style. Instead, you should write your audit report in clear, understandable language.
Remember, your reader may not have a technical background. Even one who does will not be
offended if the report is easy to read and understand.
Here are a few suggestions:
Simplify your writing by using active voice. Writers often are reluctant to take responsibility for their
recommendations; they use passive voice to avoid responsibility, saying �It is recommended...’ or �It
has been shown...’ rather than �We recommend...’ or �We have shown...’
Consider that you are addressing the report to one or more individuals. Write it as if you were speaking
directly to the reader. Use the words �you’ and �your.’ Make the report plain and simple.
Not:
Installation of high-efficiency fluorescent lamps in place of the present lamps is recommended.
But:
Install high-efficiency fluorescent lamps in place of your present lamps.
Or:
We recommend that you install high-efficiency fluorescent lamps in place of your present
lamps.
Avoid technical jargon that your reader may not understand. Don't use acronyms such as ECO, EMO
or EMR without explaining them. (Energy Conservation Opportunity, Energy Management
Opportunity, Energy Management Recommendation.)
Often the concepts we are trying to convey in an audit report are not easy to explain in a limited
number of words – try to present important information visually. Where appropriate, use illustrations or
drawings to reinforce the benefit. Eniscope will deliver information in a number of visually engaging
ways, which can be printed and made part of your Energy Audit.
The methodology and calculations used to develop your recommendations are potentially useful in
an audit report. Including the methodology and calculations gives technical personnel the ability to
check the accuracy of your assumptions and your work. However, not every reader wants to wade
through pages describing the methodology and showing the calculations. Therefore, you may wish to
provide this information in a technical supplement to your Audit Report. Since this section is clearly
labelled as the technical supplement, other readers are put on notice as to the purpose of this
section.
A major problem with many reports is a failure to explain the assumptions underlying the calculations.
For example, show how you got the numbers... �Your facility operates from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm, five
days a week, 51 weeks per year. Therefore, we will use 3188 hours in our calculations.’
It would be beneficial to use one section of your report to list your standard assumptions and
calculations. That way you don’t have to repeat the explanations for each of your recommendations.
Typically some of the standard assumptions/calculations included in this section could be operating
hours, average cost of electricity, demand rate, off-peak cost of electricity, and any other relevant
factors.
Some writers assume that their readers will understand their recommendation even if it is not explicitly
stated. Although the implied recommendation may often be clear, the better practice is to clearly
state your recommendation so that your reader knows exactly what to do.
Not:
Install occupancy sensors in the conference room and restrooms.
But:
You should purchase 5 occupancy sensors; install one in the conference room
and one in each of the four restrooms.
Important to always consider is that the integrity of a report is grounded in its accuracy. This does not
just mean correctness of calculations. Clearly, inaccurate calculations will destroy a report's credibility.
But other problems can also undermine the value of your report.
Be consistent throughout the report. Use the same terminology so your reader is not confused. Make
sure that you use the same values. Don't use two different load factors for the same piece of
equipment in different recommendations.
Proofread your report carefully. Typographical and spelling errors devalue an otherwise good
product. With computer spell checkers, there is very little excuse for misspelled words, but at the same
time they can make some silly assumptions. The sort of readers, who are likely to notice this type of
error, will wonder if your technical calculations are similarly flawed.
Let’s consider the main sections of what is likely to make up �The World’s Best Energy Audit Report’…
the following report format will likely meet your clients' needs and should give them what they need to
make a decision in favour of your proposal.
Executive Summary:
The audit report should start with an executive summary, which basically lists the recommended
energy conservation measures and shows the implementation cost and dollar savings amount. This
section is intended for the readers who only want to see the bottom line. Although the executive
summary can be as simple as a short table, you should add some brief text to explain the
recommendations and, if appropriate, include other special information needed to implement the
recommendations.
Results to Date:
Highlight the benefits achieved so far from implementation of the EnergyMaps programme both in
terms of energy saved and other demonstrable benefits. Include comments from staff if appropriate.
Include some data from Eniscope.
Energy Saving Opportunities:
Focus on the potential energy saving that have been identified and project this saving across five
years to make the figures come to life. Based on the company’s profitability (if this is available) project
what level of turnover would be required to achieve the same bottom line profit.
Problems Requiring Immediate Attention:
Define the problems currently experienced within the facility and the consequences of doing nothing
in terms of waste and other losses.
Recommendations:
In this section you should outline the steps that your client should consider in order to start
implementing your recommendations - highlighting the benefits/rewards that come from proceeding
with all your recommendations. It is often good to priorities these as �action plans’ on the basis that
some will provide a better ROI (return on investment) than others. This section should detail A. the nocost options already implemented through the use of Eniscope, B. Low cost options where the saving
can be guaranteed, and C. The longer-term investment opportunities where payback is more
than two years, but still beneficial. In the �closing’ part of the sales process you could ask them if they
intend to go for all of the recommendations or just the �low cost’ energy saving options on which we
can guarantee early payback? – either way you get a sale!
Pay As You Save Plan.
Include a short discussion of the ways your client can pay for the recommendations. Ideally you
should have a leasing company that you have a relationship with. Or, present it to the company on
the basis that you recommend they use their preferred leasing company and you are happy to make
the arrangements on their behalf. You may wish to cover the traditional use of company capital,
loans for small businesses, utility incentive programs, and the shared savings approach of the energy
service companies, if these are relevant. Remind your customer they are paying for the solutions
anyway in terms of wasted energy – it is simply a matter of what they will have to show for the money
they are already spending.
Performance Guarantee:
Provide details on the product and performance guarantees and reassure the client that their
investment is �Risk-Free’. Where else can they get a 25% guaranteed return on investment?
Energy Saving Products
This section should include the product data sheets (brochures) that relate to the products or solutions
we are recommending.
The Technical Supplement
The technical supplement is the part of the report, which contains the specific information about the
facility and the audit recommendations in �technical’ terms. The technical supplement has two main
sections: one includes your assumptions and general calculations; the other describes the
recommendations in detail including the calculations and methodology.
Here you provide the reader with the basis for understanding your calculations and assumptions. You
could include a short description of the facility. Standard values calculated in this section include
operating hours, average cost of electricity, demand rate, off-peak cost of electricity etc. Here you
should explain the methodology used to arrive at your savings estimates. Provide the equations and
show how the calculations are performed. Adroitly, by placing the calculations away from the rest of
the information rather than intermingling it, you won't scare off the readers who are not that interested
in �technical stuff’ but need to know the other information.
Appendix
Use an appendix to �dump’ your lengthy data tables. Your customer will almost never read them but
at least they provide some reassurance that your calculations, assumptions and recommendations
our based on a solid foundation – which of course they are. They provide backup information without
cluttering up the main body of the report.
In summary, many audit reports are not user-friendly – that’s why most of them end up in the bin! Most
often, they are either lengthy documents full of explanations, justifications and calculations, or they
are very short with little backup information. If a report is so long that it intimidates your readers by its
very size, they will invariably set it aside to read when they have more time – if ever. What’s more it is
almost impossible to �close on the day’. If it’s so short that needed information is lacking, the readers
may not believe the results and again you will have nothing to close on.
Writing a user-friendly audit report presented in one of the specially designed Enigin Audit Report four
ring binders, is an important step in promoting implementation of audit recommendations. Put simply –
you need to find out what people need and show them how to get it… and give them the motivation
by building desire for your solution in a credible way. You need to figure out what your customers like,
and what they hate, what keeps them awake at night, what gives them ulcers and what catastrophic
events they dread – and make it clear how much additional profit they can make.
You need to observe what aspects of their business they're emotional about, and design your solution
in the form of �The Best Energy Audit Report in the World’ to address those felt needs.
You want to balance your sales message and emotion with credible factual data, so you build a
strong, persuasive guide that your customer can't stop reading and that ultimately moves them to
action.
Enigin PLC
Southview House
St Austell Enterprise Park
Carclaze
St Austell
Cornwall
TR11 4RJ
England
t: 01726 871040
f: 01726 61960
This document is provided as a guide for Enigin partners/Distributors to produce a meaningful Energy Audit report for client
companies. In preparing this document recognition is given to the works of Lynne C. Capehart, Project coordinator; Barney L.
Capehart; Director University of Florida Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center, Department of Industrial and Systems. Ian
Wrigley FRSA. Perry Marshall. Their expertise and/or white papers were utilized as a reference during the preparation of this
guide.
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