Green Business Ideas: Energy Efficiency Auditing

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Beyond reducing energy consumption for buildings and businesses because of environmental concerns, boosting the energy efficiency of companies, homes, and organizations can also help them to save money. For those with an aptitude for math, building and construction, and energy issues, starting an energy efficiency auditing company could be a great green business idea.

1. What is an energy efficiency auditing company?

Energy efficiency auditing companies survey a building’s usage of energy and help to eliminate waste, thereby reducing utility bills and greenhouse gasses at the same time.  It’s such a win-win situation that U.S. News and World Report cited this business as the best small business to start in their November 10, 2008 issue.

2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?

Math, building/construction knowledge, and/or environmental science are key knowledge bases for starting an energy efficiency auditing business.  A certification through the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is considered a good seal of approval for auditors, and membership in this non-profit organization can help drive business to your company through its nationwide database.

You’ll use some basic auditors tools like an infra-red camera and must be capable of providing professional looking documents to building owners, and to provide effective advice on solutions to the problems you find in people’s homes, so knowledge of appliances, wiring, and energy saving devices will also be important. And as with any other business, you’ll want to brush up on your sales and marketing skills, as well as learning the fine art of the proposal.

3. How much money is required to start?

$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$).  U.S. News and World Reports cited that there are a few important pieces of equipment to buy, as well as the training and certification, but that this business could be started for as low as $10,000. If you need to take some courses to increase your knowledge, you’ll need to factor that into your expenses as well, but there are some free and low-cost energy efficiency resources available online, such as those from Energy University, Energy Star, and the US Dept of Energy.

A basic home or office computer will be very helpful, and if you choose to invest in other IT equipment, a good quality tablet to bring to the job site for data entry and acquisition can pay for itself fairly quickly. Depending on if you focus on residential, office buildings, or factories or other operations facilities, you may need to buy some auditing tools that are appropriate for those situations.

4. What is the income potential?

$$-$$$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$).  Since this is a relatively new industry, it is hard to say what the income potential of an energy efficiency auditing business is.  However, this is a fast growing area with a lot of market demand. In addition, getting contracts at the enterprise level, or at the county or municipal level, could yield a good income for the right company.

5. What is the best location for an energy efficiency auditing company?

Location is not important in starting this business, as you will be mobile and traveling to your customers. Regions where the climate is hot will have different needs than cold climates, but many of the same principles will apply, no matter what the climate and local weather is.

6.  Three best questions to ask yourself to find out if an energy efficiency auditing business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):

  • Are you analytical, good at math, and able to take a holistic view of something as complex as a building envelope?
  • Are you passionate about helping people save money and save the planet at the same time?
  • Are you in a position where you can start a business that might take 10-20 hours per week and not pay very much at first?

[Image: Green Energy Futures]


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