If you’ve stumbled across this post, you are most likely looking for ways to conduct an energy audit on your metal or commercial building. Although hiring a professional to perform your energy audit is the best way to determine where your building is losing energy, you can conduct your own energy test that will help you start conserving energy right away.
As you begin your audit, please remember to keep a list of areas you check as well as issues that need to be resolved. Once you have completed your audit you can prioritize areas that need to be addressed first. Even if your building is new there may still be areas that energy can be saved. Let’s get started!
Locate & Seal Air Leaks
When doing the walk through of your building, make note of any air leaks (drafts). The potential energy saved just from reducing drafts can range from 5%-30% per year.
Check for air leaks along baseboards; edge of flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check areas inside and outside of your building, especially where two different materials meet. Although related to detecting air leaks in homes, the tips in this article also apply to commercial and metal buildings.
Once you identify any air leaks, you will want to seal each and every one of them with the appropriate material. Plug and caulk around windows, doors, pipes, electric outlets and wiring.
Check Wall & Ceiling Insulation
Large amounts of heat can be lost through ceilings and walls if insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum, this is especially true in metal buildings. If your company resides in an older building, the insulation standards may have been different at the time of construction then they are now, and may require added insulation to be up to the current standard.
If your building has an attic check that it has been heavily insulated and properly weather-stripped. Seal any gaps that may be leading outside. When sealing areas near heat producing devices make sure to use non-combustible sealant. Check that there is a vapor barrier under the attic insulation; this will reduce the amounts of moisture that can pass through the ceiling. If a vapor barrier is missing, considering putting one in. This will prevent moisture from entering in which reduces the effectiveness of the insulation that could lead to structural damage.
Next, check wall insulation, this may be a little more difficult. Select an exterior wall and make sure to shut off the circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse for any outlets in the wall. Test outlets to be sure electricity is not still running. Remove the cover plate from one of the outlets and gently probe into the wall with a small crochet hook. With the hood retrieve a small bit of insulation for easy identification. This method won’t tell you if the entire wall is insulated but will give you a good idea.
The R-value of insulation varies based on what type of insulation you use and on the type of space that is being insulated. So make sure to consult with a metal building insulation expert!
Inspecting Heating & Cooling Equipment
Heating and cooling equipment should be inspected annually. Filters should be checked and replaced when needed, generally every month or two, especially when being used regularly. A professional should be brought in once a year to do a thorough inspection.
Every 15 years a unit should be replaced with a more energy efficient unit. Check ductwork for dirt streaks, which indicate air leaks. These types of leaks should be replaced with duct mastic. Any ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces need to be insulated with an R-Value of 6 as the recommended minimum.
Approximately 10% of an electric bill is from energy used for lighting; this cost can be reduced by examining current light bulbs and replacing inefficient bulbs with higher efficiency bulbs. Some options for more efficient bulbs are: incandescent, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes. When shopping for bulbs, consider the brightness of the bulbs you want and look for lumens and the Lighting Facts label. Your electric utility may offer rebates or other incentives for purchasing energy-efficient lamps.
After you wrap up your metal building energy audit, you’ll need to prioritize based on needs and budgets and start knocking out each area that needs improvement. If you happen to need additional insulation for your metal building, please contact one of our consultants by filling out the form located here.