A new guide on energy auditing is set to help commercial building owners, facilities managers and businesses fight back against soaring energy prices.

The Energy Efficiency Council’s quick reference guide sets out the rationale for audits covered by the AS/NZ 3598:2000 Energy Audits Standard, which was released in 2014 by Standards Australia.

In addition to money saved, there are environmental and productivity gains businesses and asset owners can achieve from even the most basic Type 1 low-level audit, according to EEC chief executive Luke Menzel.

“Businesses are grappling with massive energy price hikes, reliability issues, and huge volatility in gas and electricity markets,” Mr Menzel said.

“These price shocks pose an existential threat to energy intensive industries, and the market needs to be fixed. But in the meantime, taking advantage of cost-effective energy productivity opportunities can give energy users some breathing space.”

In addition to stepping users through the audit standard and how it works, the new reference guide also informs them of what to look for in an energy auditor.

Aspects include their ability to deliver an audit that is compliant with the Standard, their communication and reporting expertise, and their knowledge of what rapid-payback energy conservation measures will be applicable for a specific business or asset.

One of the key parts of the standard is that audits include options for energy efficiency both in the short and longer term.

It also requires auditors to inform clients of the expected payback time for measures and a basic calculation of expected financial savings.

Mr Menzel said energy users had welcomed the guide.

“Businesses understand that getting more out of every unit of energy behind the meter is a way of reducing their exposure to the craziness playing out on the other side.”

He said the guide would help energy users “get the information they need to assess and invest in measures that quickly cut energy costs, and mitigate the risk of future price rises.”

Another reason to audit – you are being treated like a “magic pudding”

The guide was produced in conjunction with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and was launched at last week’s Energy Users Association of Australia conference in Brisbane.

The conference coincided with a Federal Court decision that overturned price cuts of around 20 per cent for network services costs in NSW that had been imposed by the Australian Energy Regulator.

The EUAA expressed disappointment at the decision, warning it could flow on to upcoming pricing decisions in other states.

Speaking at the end of the conference, EUAA chief executive Andrew Richards described the decision as “another blow to energy users already under extreme cost pressure” from escalating energy costs.

“It’s hard for energy users to not feel like a magic pudding from which a range of market participants can continue to feast,” Mr Richards told delegates.

“Energy users accept and understand that a rapid transition of energy markets is upon them, but they should not be expected to accept an ad-hoc approach to change and a regulatory environment that does not protect their long-term interests.”

He said there were “many moving parts” to the energy market and what makes up a customer’s bill, but that over the past decade all the different parts seemed “to be moving against the long-term interests of consumers”.

“We understand energy networks need to make acceptable returns for shareholders, but it appears the current [AER] rules allow them to do so at the expense of energy users.”