Energy consumption trends in India reflect increasing surges in demand for energy. With India’s growing population and increased access to electricity, it has been projected that the nation’s electricity demand will almost triple between 2018 and 2040.

In line with the identified energy needs, the nation has been taking several policy measures to promote energy efficiency and conservation. Adding to the policy measures and mandates, several interest groups, and CSOs have been developing initiatives to disseminate information around energy conservation. As a result, interest around the ways and means to conserve energy has been growing. And, energy auditing as the first step in the process of energy conservation has been gaining traction.

Energy Audit

As per the Energy Conservation Act, 2001, Energy Audit is defined as "the verification, monitoring and analysis of use of energy including submission of technical report containing recommendations for improving energy efficiency with cost-benefit analysis and an action plan to reduce energy consumption"

Levels of Energy Audit1

(i) Simple or Walk-through audit - Walk-through audit, as its name implies, is a tour of the facility to visually inspect its operations and energy using systems. The audit further involves analysing patterns of energy usage. A walk-through audit is a preliminary step which determines if further auditing is required for the said facility.

(ii) Standard audit - A standard audit involves analyzing the efficiency of the appliances used in a given site and further projecting energy and costs savings that can be achieved with behavioural changes.

(iii) Comprehensive or detailed audit - Detailed audit includes a quantitative analysis that provides information regarding investment, operational, and maintenance costs involved in using energy-efficient appliances.

In India, energy-intensive sectors like thermal power, aluminium, cement, fertilizer, iron and steel, pulp and paper, textiles and chlor-alkali tend to adopt detailed energy audits owing to their legal obligation towards energy saving. Although energy auditing has been widely adopted among commercial and industrial entities in India, it is still a relatively new space for Indian households.

Energy audit for Households

The most common approach to household energy audits is the standard level of energy auditing which aims at increasing energy and cost savings by altering energy consumption patterns with behavioural changes.

There are two broad approaches to prescribing behavioural changes for households:

  • Promoting energy conservation by reducing the number of hours appliances are used

  • Improving energy efficiency with usage of energy-efficient appliances

Promoting energy conservation by reducing the number of hours appliances are used: The approach involves analyzing energy consumed in a household, over a period of time. This is usually done at two levels. Firstly, the electricity bills across seasons are reviewed to identify the period of excessive energy usage. Secondly, the daily power consumption of each appliance is studied to calculate energy wastage.

Recommendations based on the findings focus on:

(a) reducing the number of hours each appliance is used, across seasons and

(b) reducing the amount of standby power consumption, if any.

Reduction of standby losses2 is among the most common recommendations provided in energy audits for households. For, there is immense saving potential in the act of unplugging a device/appliance, when it is not in use.

The  table below provides a glimpse into the extent of energy wasted when appliances are not unplugged when they are not in use:

Table 1: Stand-by Consumption

  Appliance   Stand-by hrs/day      Day/year     Stand-by Watt     Stand-by kWh/year  
Set-Top-Box 16 365 10 58
TV 16 365 7 41
Computer 22 365 9 72
DVD Player 23.5 365 6 51

 

Improving energy efficiency with usage of energy efficient appliances: This is the most common approach to energy auditing in Indian households. The preliminary step in this approach is to take stock of appliances under categories3 such as lighting, cooling, heating/cooking, entertainment, and others. Subsequently, energy consumption pattern and efficiency level s of each of the appliances is studied. Based on the study, recommendations are made to opt for more energy-efficient appliances.

A study on energy saving potential in Indian households, conducted by Prayas (Energy Group), provides a comparison between the average wattage of the cheapest model and the wattage of the most efficient model, for select appliances. The comparison suggests a significant saving potential in making the switch to efficient models.

Table 2: Average Wattage of the Cheapest and Most Efficient Model

Appliance Cheapest Model Energy Efficient Model Savings
  W W In%
Incandescent bulb to CFL 55 15 73%
Direct Cool Refrigerator 350kWh 179kWh 49%
Flat Screen TV 73 51 30%
Fan 70 50 29%
Tube Light T12 to T8 49 36 27
Window AC 1892 1406 26%
Air Cooler 162 125 23%

In conclusion, energy auditing will help consumers to (i) map energy usage in their households, (ii) conserve energy, (iii) improve energy efficiency and thereby (iv) maximize their household energy and cost savings.

Footnotes:

1. Thumann, A., Niehus, T. and Younger, W. (2013). Handbook of energy audits. Lilburn, GA: Fairmont Press.

2. Stand-by loss is defined as the electricity consumption of an appliance when it is actually not in use.

3. Lighting: Incandescent Bulbs, Fluorescent  Tube lights, Compact Fluorescent Lamp, LED

Cooling: Ceiling Fan,  Wall mounted and Pedestal fan, Air conditioners, Air coolers, Refrigerator

Heating/Cooking: Water Heater / Geyser, Iron Box, Mixer, Grinder, Induction, Microwave Oven, Electric Cooker, Dishwasher, Household water purification system

Entertainment and Other Appliances: Television, Sound system, Desktops, Laptops, Washing Machine, Water pump, Mobile phone charger etc.