Most of the 600 companies that the city's Energy Conservation Centre (ECC) has audited over the last five years were not using energy efficiently, and only three had installed smart energy systems.

Energy audits could save companies thousands of dollars in electricity bills, according to Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tho, manager of the centre's Department of Technical Consultancy.

The ECC has audited energy systems for local companies and manufacturers at their request and recommended necessary changes.

"The three companies with smart energy systems are foreign-invested," she said.

Energy-saving equipment and staff awareness of energy conservation were the keys to cutting back on energy consumption, she added.

Hoc Mon District's Thien Tri Company, a commercial paper producer, whose energy accounts for 16 percent of its products' cost, said the rate had dropped by 2 percent since it had invested in energy-efficient machinery, according to ECC's recommendations.

The savings reached 140 million VND (7,000 USD) a month, or more than 85,000 USD for an entire year, said Nguyen Van Thu, general director of the company.

Thu said all of his departments and production phases were reviewed for energy use before he made an investment decision.

The staff had also been trained in energy conservation. Quotas on electricity consumption and discipline had been imposed to ensure energy efficiency in the company, he said.

A 60 percent savings on company's electricity bills in the last three years allowed the company to improve wages and bonuses, said the general director.

At District 1's Continental Hotel, an energy management board made up of managers of various departments drew up energy efficiency policies, said Dao Hoang Lien, deputy general director of the company.

Implementation is supervised and evaluated by software built specifically for managing energy use.

"Our overhead has dropped by almost 20 percent year-on-year since we applied strict energy policies," Lien said./.