An engineer wearing a hardhat tests pumps in a factory

An energy efficiency engineer could...


Recommend the installation of the most efficient lamps and electrical ballasts available in an office building. Close-up photo of an office building with office lights still turned on Review architectural plans and make changes to the design to improve the heating and cooling properties of a new home. Pens point to areas on a blueprint
Analyze the energy usage in a production line, and recommend changes to boost efficiency and save money. Robotic arms welding on an assembly line Use an infrared camera during an energy audit to determine where heat losses are greatest in a room. An infrared image of a wall colored in red and two windows colored in blue
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Key Facts & Information

Overview How much energy do you think all the houses and buildings in the United States consume? It turns out they eat up 40% of all the energy that the U.S. uses in a year. The figure is high because all those houses and buildings need to be heated, cooled, lit, ventilated, and supplied with heated water and electricity to run all sorts of electrical devices, appliances, and computers. Energy efficiency engineers help reduce the energy that houses and buildings use. This saves families and businesses money, and lowers the emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Key Requirements Detail-oriented, logical, persuasive, and able to present trade-offs in clear language with excellent oral and written communication skills.
Minimum Degree Bachelor's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Biology, chemistry, physics, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus, English; if available, computer science, statistics, applied technology, business
Median Salary
Energy Engineer
  $97,300
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
  $49,630
Min Wage
  $15,080
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%) In Demand!
Interview
  • Read this article to meet energy engineer, Katy Deacon, who has a passion for energy efficiency and is revelling in her opportunity to enthuse people about reducing carbon emissions. She was voted Woman Engineer of the Year in 2006 by the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
  • What's it really like to work in an energy career and conduct energy audits and manage an energy project? Read these interviews with Mike Childs and Ryan Hunt to find out.
  • In this article, you'll meet energy engineer, Peter Rumsey, who was inspired to think about sustainability and energy efficiency after watching the nation go through the oil crisis in the 1970's.
  • Read this interview to meet Chris Warfel, who started his energy career by doing an energy audit at a school.
Related Occupations
  • Architects
  • Construction and building inspectors
  • Construction managers
  • Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
  • Mechanical engineers
Source: O*Net

Training, Other Qualifications

A bachelor's degree in engineering is the minimum requirement for employment as an energy efficiency engineer.

Education and Training

Most energy efficiency engineers have at least a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, such as mechanical or electrical engineering, in addition to P.E. (professional engineer) and/or C.E.M. (certified engineering manager) certification. Some employers prefer an advanced engineering degree, while others prefer experience in business management. A few colleges and universities are developing energy engineering programs designed to focus on the growing demand for engineers with training in energy efficiency, sustainability, and alternative energy development.

Many energy efficiency engineers need some practical experience before they can conduct their own energy audits. Often they start as an adjunct or support to another energy auditor. In this way, they get to learn the responsibilities on the job as they work. If an employer requires advanced degrees or certification specifically related to becoming an energy auditor, then the employee often works as an apprentice or support to another energy auditor while continuing his or her education. In addition, many degree programs have some work-study built into them.

Other Qualifications

Energy efficiency engineers require excellent oral and written communication skills since they interact with many types of people, give presentations to management, and write reports and documents which influence corporate decisions on energy conservation.

Nature of the Work

Energy efficiency engineers identify opportunities to save energy and improve efficiency in commercial and residential buildings by conducting energy audits in which they inspect, survey, model, and analyze the primary energy flows in buildings--mechanical, electrical, and thermal. Through their modeling and analysis, efficiency engineers find ways to conserve energy in buildings, reducing the amount of energy going into buildings without negatively impacting the energy needs, or the health and safety, of the people inside. The goal of their work is to reduce the ownership costs of homes and buildings and to promote good stewardship of our environment through increased energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency engineers may be called upon during any stage of home or building construction—from the design or building of new structures to the remodeling of existing ones. They may specialize in auditing one of the energy-consuming components of the home or building, such as the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC), or lighting system.

Energy efficiency engineers help corporations develop energy usage goals, and mentor their energy teams to help the corporations reach their goals. They assist in problem resolution, and energy project management through cost-benefit analyses, scope and bid development, contract negotiations, contract management, and project performance verification. They prepare quarterly reports and present detailed briefings to corporate leadership on energy efficiency progress, roadblocks, and future plans to achieve success.

Some energy efficiency engineers are employed in energy education. They hold training sessions in businesses to improve employee awareness of energy reduction efforts and to engage employees in a variety of opportunities for reducing energy usage both at home and at work.

Work Environment

Most energy efficiency engineers conduct energy audits inside industrial plants, commercial buildings, or residential homes, while their modeling and analysis of energy flows is done inside their own office building. Some engineers may spend time outdoors at construction sites to help monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems. Some energy efficiency engineers travel extensively to conduct audits at plants or worksites outside their home city.

Many engineers work a standard 40-hour week. At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job, requiring engineers to work longer hours.

On the Job

  • Identify energy savings opportunities and make recommendations to achieve more energy efficient operation.
  • Manage the development, design, or construction of energy conservation projects to ensure acceptability of budgets and time lines, conformance to federal and state laws, or adherence to approved specifications.
  • Conduct energy audits to evaluate energy use, costs, or conservation measures.
  • Monitor and analyze energy consumption.
  • Perform energy modeling, measurement, verification, commissioning, or retro-commissioning.
  • Oversee design or construction aspects related to energy such as energy engineering, energy management, and sustainable design.
  • Conduct jobsite observations, field inspections, or sub-metering to collect data for energy conservation analyses.
  • Review architectural, mechanical, or electrical plans and specifications to evaluate energy efficiency or determine economic, service, or engineering feasibility.
  • Inspect or monitor energy systems including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), or daylighting systems to determine energy use or potential energy savings.
  • Evaluate construction design information such as detail and assembly drawings, design calculations, system layouts and sketches, or specifications.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Energy Engineers

Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...

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