Panel of switches.
Manufacturers are often well-positioned to conduct and benefit from a thorough audit of utility usage in their facilities.

February 9, 2024

Audit Your Factory, Save Money: The ROI of Smarter Utility Use

Unlock the secrets of sustainable energy and boost your profits. Learn how utility audits empower manufacturers to thrive in today's market.


“May I please undergo an audit?” surely ranks high on the list of Questions Nobody Asks, or so you would think. But when the audit is performed on utilities at a manufacturing facility, the result isn’t taxes and penalties. Often it produces energy and expense savings.

The United States ranks as one of the world’s top countries for energy waste. For those in industries such as food, beverage, consumer products and other manufacturing, you know that your market is no exception.

Sustainable Solutions You Can Trust
With 127 Sustainability Certified projects to its credit, Haskell’s team of more than 100 Accredited Professionals and our sustainability-experienced design and construction personnel work collaboratively to ensure your sustainability goals are met and exceeded. Utilizing cutting-edge technologies, tools and knowledge, our teams develop and implement efficient and cost-effective strategies to minimize a project’s environmental impact within budget.

This waste isn’t limited to electrical and gas energy. It also extends to water use and solids being trucked to landfills. Unfortunately, shareholders are left to pay for it with decreased profits.

However, there is good news for manufacturers.

You Can Rapidly Change the Status Quo.

As manufacturers, you are likely well-equipped to change the status quo in your factories. The following points illustrate why you can make a difference:

  • Utility waste reduction is generally the low-hanging fruit for factory capital improvements. With an accumulation of decades of expansions and renovations, most facilities lack a holistic view of utility usage.
  • Collaboratively, plant managers, engineers and energy partners have the technical know-how to facilitate utility improvements. This team can collectively monitor and calibrate the designed and installed utility controls.
  • Boards of directors and shareholders promote sustainability in their mission statements and welcome strategies that reduce utility usage.
  • If a reasonable return on investment (ROI) can be demonstrated, your leadership can dedicate capital to utility waste reduction projects.
  • Most manufacturers have the size and credit ratings to secure energy reduction financing that will, in some cases, allow you to treat improvement costs as operating expenses instead of capital.

How a Utility Audit Works

While an IRS audit may feel like a nightmare, a utility audit may seem too good to be true. Luckily, it’s not. Executed correctly, it will save much more than it will cost.

Borrowing from experience and great design industry organizations like the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Rocky Mountain Institute, below is a brief step-by-step explanation of how utility audits work.

1. Conduct Preliminary Analysis

Start by engaging an engineering or design-build firm to perform a preliminary analysis and walk-through (Audit Level 1) survey of your facility. This can take up to three days and largely consists of a visual inspection of the facility and a review of its record drawings and utility bills.

Utility consumption-related facility components that are inspected include:

2. Identify Improvement Opportunities

Based on the findings oft the preliminary analysis, improvement opportunities are identified for further exploration (Audit Level 2). These targeted opportunities are reviewed in more detail. More data is collected from the plant, and preliminary ROIs are calculated for the potential solutions.

Once this is collected, the improvements that pass the ROI test are designed in detail, a comprehensive cost analysis is performed, and go-no-go decisions are made (Audit Level 3).

3. Select a Firm to Perform Improvements

Some manufacturers begin their process with an engineering firm and implement their improvements with another firm. Without an abundantly clear scope, partnering with more than one firm to implement improvements tends to leave communication gaps.

However, if you select an Engineer, Procure, Construct (EPC) firm from the beginning, it can perform the audits as well as the design and installation phases of the improvements. Partnering with an EPC firm greatly reduces risk because it can guarantee the utility reduction impacts of each improvement. It may also facilitate financing to extend payments for a duration that will equalize monthly utility bill reductions.

Home Energy Savings vs. Facility Energy Savings

Consider the small improvements that you know you and your family could make at home. Perhaps you could start using compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs, occupancy-sensor light switches, a smart thermostat, lower water-flow toilets, low-flow shower heads or new weather stripping on doors. Or maybe you could be more disciplined about maintenance and cleaning filters on your HVAC system. Imagine the amount of savings you could create.

Now, take those savings and multiply them by a thousand, or ten thousand. That is the impact you could have by assessing your company’s utility consumption and implementing practical, cost-saving measures.

For more information, contact Stephen Daffron, Haskell System Analytics Manager, at

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a utility audit in a manufacturing setting?

    A utility audit at a manufacturing facility is a comprehensive examination of the energy and utility usage within the facility. The primary purpose of a utility audit is to identify areas where energy and resource usage can be optimized and costs reduced, while maintaining or improving production efficiency.

    During a utility audit, a team of experts will analyze and evaluate the facility’s energy consumption patterns, assess the efficiency of the equipment and systems, identify potential sources of energy waste, and recommend strategies for improving energy efficiency.

    The audit can cover various utility systems, such as electrical, water, gas, steam, and compressed air, depending on the manufacturing processes and facilities, as well as water usage, wastewater handling and solid waste disposal. The audit team may also identify opportunities for implementing renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to reduce the facility’s reliance on fossil fuels.

    Overall, a utility audit can help manufacturing facilities to reduce their environmental impact, lower energy costs, and improve their overall sustainability.

  • Why conduct a utility audit?

    A utility audit can provide valuable information and insight into a facility’s energy and water use, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal. Such an audit often can identify potential changes that can save money, reduce environmental impact and improve energy performance. Potential applications include the following:

    • Identify inefficiencies and waste: A utility audit can help identify areas where your building is using energy inefficiently or wasting energy. This can help you make changes that reduce your energy consumption and reduce costs.
    • Improve energy performance: A utility audit can justify upgrades and retrofits that will reduce energy use and save money in the long term.
    • Increase sustainability: Reducing utility usage not only saves money, it also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase sustainability.
    • Meet regulatory requirements: Some jurisdictions require buildings to meet certain energy performance standards. A utility audit can help ensure that your building is compliant with these regulations.
  • How long does a utility audit take?

    The length of a utility audit will depend on numerous factors, including the size and complexity of the facility, the scope of the audit and the availability of utility data. In general, a utility audit can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months, during which time auditors will review utility bills and documentation, analyze usage patterns and identify opportunities for savings, cost reductions and increased efficiency. They may also conduct on-site inspections and interviews with building occupants or facility managers.

    The duration of the audit process can also depend on the level of detail required in the audit report, as well as any follow-up actions or recommendations that need to be implemented. Ultimately, the goal of a utility audit is to help facility owners and managers improve their utility efficiency, reduce utility costs and enhance the sustainability of their operations, so the time and effort invested in the audit can yield significant long-term benefits.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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