The textile industry is a complicated manufacturing industry because it is a fragmented and heterogeneous sector dominated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Energy is one of the main cost factors in the textile industry. In this study, thirteen textile plants from five major sub-sectors of the textile industry in Iran, i.e. spinning, weaving, wet-processing, worsted fabric manufacturing, and carpet manufacturing, were visited. The energy intensity of each plant was calculated and compared against other plants within the same sub-sector. The results showed the range of energy intensities for plants in each sub-sector. It also showed that energy saving/management efforts should be focused on motor-driven systems in spinning plants, whereas in other textile sub-sectors thermal energy is the dominant type of energy used and should be focused on. For conducting a fair and proper comparison/ benchmarking studies, factors that significantly influence the energy intensity across plants within each textile sub-sector (explanatory variables) are explained. Finally, a list of energy efficiency improvement measures observed during this study are presented.