As you mention “audit” people think of government’s prying fingers peeking into taxes and making you pay more than claimed. Given that circumstance it gives any institution-fearing human a reason to feel apprehensive about the whole "audit experience". Imagine an audit that actually saves you money. Wouldn’t that be a change in perception? By inquiring about an energy audit, you are almost assured to be on the right side of the money making equation.
An energy audit usually entails cost cutting measures that have an immediate payoff. Small adjustments to a facility’s HVAC system or assessment of lighting needs are quick and easy ways to realize cost savings. It should be expected that within the first couple of hours an energy auditor reviews a facility, cost savings should be realized. It is a general rule of thumb that with little or no money up front, a user can reduce their energy demands by 5 – 10%. As is often the case, it is usually at the time that the user accompanies the auditor during the review and makes note of possible changes and asks themselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?” When this is asked, the auditor as well as the user understand the methods of energy conservation.
Immediate cost savings prove the effectiveness of the audit and allow the user to be more open regarding other modifications to further reduce their energy demands. The next changes or modifications tend to increase in capital commitment by the user but the size of the saving increases accordingly. The auditor should be able to provide a financial analysis for each change and the cost-benefit result would be for the user. Without this though approach with caution. Without conservative and fully explained calculations, it is the user who will shoulder the cost of the upgrade, not the auditor.
With an energy audit you are expected to make money, not lose money. If this is not the result, question the effectiveness of the auditor. If their investigation is thorough and well explained and they do not find anything to improve, it is a commendation to the user’s efficiency and conservatism. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear that you are doing everything you can!