Our Unique $martStart ™ Approach

Unlike most energy service practitioners, our focus is cutting your energy cost, not just your energy use. $martStart ™ is a process that puts dollars before BTUs.

Others follow the same standard procedures for auditing, design, etc., laid out in manuals and handbooks. Merely plugging numbers into formulas, however, often fails to provide the best outcome for the customer. The main result is instead a nice commission or sale for the practitioner.

$martStart ™ developed out of our decades of experience in energy analysis and building operations. It shortcuts the energy auditing process, often providing comparable (and/or additional) savings at lower cost. It's the smart way to start assessing your energy options before risking the cost of a full-blown energy audit.

The Energywiz $martStart ™ Process

An energy audit begins with an on-site examination of a building's energy use and systems. A $martStart ™ first nails down a facility's financial criteria for pursuing improvements (e.g., ROI, payback period). Once we know what a client is willing to budget for such work, our process works within those limits. That discussion is followed by:

  • benchmarking a facility's energy usage and costs relative to local peers
  • an assessment of its energy pricing options
  • a brief interview with facility personnel
  • and an examination of invoices and specs for energy-related equipment.

Using well-proven techniques, we determine the likelihood and magnitude of possible savings from energy investments that may meet the stated criteria, and ballpark costs to achieve them. If appropriate, we may then recommend a limited (and lower-cost) energy audit focusing on only those systems where investments will produce cost-effective savings. If performed by Energywiz, the cost for the $martStart ™ analysis is then deducted from the cost of the audit.

Unlike many (if not most) energy auditors, we do not represent or sell energy equipment or installation services, some of which always seem to end up as recommended measures in their audit reports. Our process may be pursued more quickly, at lower cost, and without the distractions and sales pressures typical of the energy auditing process.

If $martStart ™ indicates a low probability of significant savings, we may instead offer cost-cutting recommendations that involve operational or other low-cost actions, and other changes that over time yield savings at minimal cost.

How Not To Spend $100,000

An institution acquired commercial facilities spread across a state. Several energy service firms were pushing its ownership to spend over $100,000 on energy audits to find ways to "upgrade" those properties.

At a fraction of that cost, $martStart™ determined it was unlikely that significant savings would be found that met ownership's stated criteria—in this case, a 4-year payback limit. Utility bills and building data showed, for example, that electric use intensities were relatively low compared to similar facilities in the area. From our invoice analysis and staff interview, we found that the efficiency of most light fixtures and HVAC controls had already been upgraded, eliminating some of the usual options that might have met the payback limit.

Utility data showed that natural gas supply for heating was competitively purchased and efficiently used, eliminating other options. Statistical disaggregation of electricity used in cooling showed that it, too, was reasonably efficient. Our process did, however, uncover failures in energy management systems that were wasting money and energy. Correcting those problems involved merely re-programming or minor repair by facility staff. It also found that several electric accounts could be switched to cheaper electric rates at little or no cost. Doing so made investment in new outdoor lighting no longer cost-effective, once again demonstrating how standard audits (which lack such tariff optimization) may fail to best serve a customer.

With most of the obvious options already addressed, it didn't make sense to spend $100,000 to audit the few remaining short payback options (e.g., tighter dampers, pipe insulation). Instead, we focused on competitive power procurement opportunities (both off- and on-site) and other measures whose payback easily met the ownership's financial criteria.

You can read tips on ways to cut electric bills without working in the dark, or buying equipment that takes years to pay for itself in Lindsay Audin's new book, "Lowering Your Facility's Electric Rates."