Energy audits help firms determine their energy consumption and identify opportunities for energy saving. The audit typically involves analyzing utility and building data; surveying, costing and evaluating energy saving measures; and estimating energy saving potential. Energy audits include benchmarking analyzes; walk-through audits to identify opportunities for improving industrial energy efficiency; detailed energy audits involving comprehensive surveys of energy use; and investment-grade audits that focus on more capital-intensive industrial energy-efficiency opportunities.

The knowledge gained through an energy audit helps firms improve the efficiency of their industrial processes. However, mandating audits does not always increase the use of industrial energy-efficiency technologies - for example, if the audits are weak and shallow because there is no unified standard, if auditing entities do not have enough qualified personnel or are not accredited and if audits have not been piloted or the financial means for more detailed auditing are lacking. Improving auditing quality requires supporting measures, such as subsidies for audits and training for auditors and company personnel. Implementation of audit recommendations may require the government to process data and provide feedback. Mandatory targets to be met within set time schedules are usually established between government and industry as part of negotiated agreements for energy efficiency.

Setting measurable targets clearly identifies priorities and direction, allows for comparison and benchmarking and acts as a focusing device for action. Targets are intended to improve performance and to challenge those for whom they are set. But they have to be realistic to maintain their motivating power.