Energy engineers work to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency.
Energy engineers design and evaluate projects and programs to reduce energy costs or improve energy efficiency during the design, building, or remodeling stages of construction.
Energy engineers help reduce energy use by helping firms use more energy-efficient operations.
Median wages for the broader occupation, Energy Engineers, are $45.01/hour.
A Bachelor's degree is common.
Energy Performance Engineer, Environmental Solutions Engineer, Measurement and Verification Engineer
Energy engineers design, develop, and evaluate projects and programs to reduce energy costs or improve efficiency. They work on the design, building, or remodeling phases of projects. By analyzing construction plans and performing visual inspections, they identify how much energy a structure is using and propose ways to reduce or optimize this usage. They use computer simulations to calculate and measure the impact of various construction features on energy consumption. Energy engineers consider all aspects of construction that affect energy usage, especially heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems. They may explore options for alternate or renewable energy sources to supply some or all of a building's energy. Energy engineers also may work for energy firms themselves, helping to develop renewable energy products.
Energy engineers may be consulted before the construction of a new building, but they also work on improving the energy performance of existing structures. They sometimes supervise the process of retro-commissioning a building, where changes are made to minimize energy costs. This often begins with an energy audit, where energy engineers use equipment to measure current energy use.
In addition to being responsible for technical aspects of energy conservation, energy engineers may perform project management and financial analysis. Some energy engineers play an important role in bidding for contracts and giving presentations to potential clients.
- Evaluate construction design information like drawings, design calculations, system layouts, and sketches.
- Inspect or monitor energy systems including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) or daylighting systems to see how much energy is being used and how much can be saved.
- Manage the development, design, or construction of energy conservation projects. Make sure that the budgets and timelines are acceptable and that the project is in line with federal and state laws or other regulations.
- Manage firms' energy consumption and estimate future utility costs.
- Monitor and analyze energy consumption.
- Perform building audits and identify potential energy saving measures.
- Perform energy modeling, measurement, verification, commissioning, or retro-commissioning.
- Promote awareness or use of renewable energy sources.
- Review architectural, mechanical, or electrical plans to evaluate energy efficiency and/or feasibility.
- Verify energy bills and meter readings.
- Visit job sites to collect data for energy conservation analyses.
- Write or install energy management routines for building automation systems.
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Education & Credentials
Education level requirements
A Bachelor's degree is common.
Most students prepare to work as an energy engineer by earning a bachelor's degree in engineering. They often specialize in mechanical or electrical engineering, which are both closely related to the field. This is a newly emerging occupation and programs specifically focused on energy engineering are rare, but related engineering programs are offered at many four-year colleges and universities.
Relevant degrees and knowledge areas
To work as an energy engineer, you must:
- have a bachelor's degree in engineering, with relevant coursework in mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering
- have work experience with energy issues
- have knowledge of building and construction principles and processes
Related programs (current training programs available)
Certifications are examinations that test or enhance your knowledge, experience, or skills in an occupation or profession.
Currently, there are no hard and fast certification requirements for energy engineers. However, the Association of Energy Engineers does offer professional certification in a number of subspecialties.
View certifications related to this career.
Day in the Life Interview
Meet Tanuj Gulati, a senior energy engineer for Energy Management Solutions (EMS), Inc.
Please share your name, title, and a description of your job responsibilities.
My name is Tanuj Gulati. I'm a senior energy engineer for Energy Management Solutions, Inc. Our company does energy audits and energy conservation analysis for commercial and industrial customers. For energy conservation projects, we have to first find out what the customer is looking for. That is, what can we do to help them make the best energy conservation decisions related to their projects? We usually start by visiting people on the floor, talking to them, and asking questions about what they need in order to make this building more energy efficient. Then we come back to the office, do the calculations, put spreadsheets together, and determine which products in the market are the best fit for that particular project.
We'll also talk to the utility companies to find out whether they offer any rebate programs that might benefit our client. And we look to see if there are any federal grants available. Once that is done, we present our findings and recommendations to the people who will be making the decision. If they choose to move forward with the project, that's great. If they don't, they may tell us that they're not comfortable with some aspect of the project in particular. In that case, we'll revisit the topic to ensure they have all of the information they need and want. Most of the time, after two or three back-and-forth meetings, the project will move forward.
The best part about this job is when the project gets done and the customer is happy. And we are happy to see that they listened to our recommendations, that they completed their project, and that they were able to get the energy savings they were expecting.
What is a typical day like at your job?
It depends on what I'm doing that particular day. If I'm in my office, I usually work eight to nine hours, but it depends on deadlines. If we have a deadline to meet, we spend extra time to get the task done. If I'm on-site (at one of our customers' facilities), then it depends on what kind of site I'm visiting. Is it small? Is it a large commercial site? That, in part, determines the nature of the tasks I'm performing. It also depends on what part of the building we are auditing. We may be on the roof, or we may be inside the building. And we have to respect what the customer wants. For example, a restaurant won't want us doing audits during their busy lunch time. And some places, such as schools or prisons, require that we have a time set up when we can go in and work with staff members, and when we're going to be least disruptive.
Weather also plays a role in our energy audits. If it's too cold, sometimes we start late. If it's hot, we like to start early. So, my days totally depend on what kind of work I'm doing, what the weather looks like, the size and type of building we're auditing, and other factors.
How did you get started working in this field?
In 1999, I finished my bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. After that, I was hired by Chemical Industry in India. While I was working there, I noticed I was interested in how I could make their process flow better — that is, how I could make the movement of material and labor more efficient. That's when I realized that I wanted to be in the field of making businesses more energy efficient.
In 2002, I came to the United States to get my master's degree in mechanical engineering. While I was finishing up my master's, I was working on a fuel cell, which is a renewable energy source. That work brought me closer to what I wanted to be doing. When I was finishing my thesis, I was offered an internship from a person who ran the Industrial Assessment Center in Louisiana, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. I got into that program, and I was with them for about a year-and-a-half. In that program we made cold calls to customers like shipyards, steel manufacturing facilities, oil and natural gas processing facilities, offshore platforms, and food processor facilities. Our job was to persuade them to let our team go into their facilities to do a free energy audit to encourage more efficient-energy usage. As a part of the process, I wrote related reports and got better in this field.
In 2005, the Industrial Assessment Center at the University of Louisiana put together a conference for commercial customers in New Orleans. The owner of Energy Management Solutions was one of the presenters. I was facilitating and heard his presentation. I knew this is the field I would like to be in, so I gave him my resume hoping someday I would get a call. Four months later, I did. They sent me some technical questions to test my knowledge about this field. I scored 100 percent. They then asked my professors to send recommendation letters. That went very well. About one month after I took my technical test, I was flown to Minnesota for a face-to-face interview. A week later, I was offered an internship. Few months later, I was a full-time employee. I am still working for Energy Management Solutions and love every bit of it.
Read more from Tanuj's day in the life interview.
Skills & Knowledge
People in this career typically need to use the following skills:
- Mathematic skills for energy cost savings analysis, data review (including mechanical, architectural, and electrical data), and energy audits (advanced skills).
- Product Development/Technology Design skills to develop conceptual design and pricing for mechanical projects to meet customer needs, including developing new more energy-efficient processes in a facility or building.
- Technical skills for technical evaluation, report writing, and data auditing.
- Project Management skills for energy project development services, including facility site surveys, energy cost savings analysis, and developing energy management plans for clients.
People in this career typically need knowledge in the following areas:
- Mechanical knowledge of the mechanics of all energy services and systems, like HVAC, building automation, and others.
- Construction knowledge for conducting energy-focused building commissioning studies, inspecting facilities to validate HVAC systems, and recommending system improvements related to energy.
Tools & Technology
Energy engineers use blower doors to check for leaks, combustion analyzers for heating systems, and even simple thermometers, all to measure how energy is being used in a facility.
They also generally use one or more kinds of energy modeling/analysis software to evaluate potential energy efficiency solutions for their projects. Software used in Minnesota includes Equest, VisualDOE, TRACE, and System Analyzer.
Some energy engineers may use computer aided design (CAD) programs for planning and designing construction or remodeling projects.
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Job Title Examples
Energy Performance Engineer, Environmental Solutions Engineer, Measurement and Verification Engineer, Measurement and Verification Energy Process Leader, Test and Balance Engineer, Energy Efficiency Engineer, Energy Manager, Technical Resource Manager
Below are industries where energy engineers can potentially be employed.
- Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing
- Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services