Working from home, teaching children from your kitchen table, enrolling for classes online, and/or streaming more entertainment? COVID-19 means residential energy usage is higher than normal. Homes that are less efficient may lead to particularly high spikes in monthly bills.
Energy audits that reveal the areas where energy is escaping are more important than ever. These programs are the first step to a more efficient, more comfortable, and less expensive home because owners can then make the necessary improvements to eliminate the energy waste. Largely due to the pandemic, many U.S. utility programs have adapted to offer home energy audits “virtually.” This helps households manage their energy use with less risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Benefits of Virtual Audits
A full in-home energy audit traditionally comprises a series of diagnostic tests that reveal inefficiencies. An energy specialist often uses a blower door test, duct blaster, and/or infrared camera to understand where the home is losing energy and administers a combustion safety test for certain heating equipment. With these diagnostic results, recommendations are developed that may include air sealing, adding insulation, or replacing HVAC systems.
Virtual energy audits, by contrast, are essentially guided walkthroughs. During the pandemic, virtual assessments help keep people safer, are incredibly convenient, and very useful. They also increase a utility’s engagement with customers, creating more opportunities for energy and monetary savings. Contractors make fewer trips to the residence than are typically required to accomplish audits and follow-ups. Utilities and efficiency service providers are reporting more cost-effective program operations since implementing virtual audits.
What’s the Process?
During an appointment for a virtual audit, an energy advisor may use video chat to ask questions of the resident, and request that the phone or tablet camera be directed to view areas of the home, appliance labels, lighting fixtures, and attic insulation levels. Tailored recommendations are then offered, which may include information on rebates offered on any recommended work.
Without diagnostic testing, a virtual audit cannot replace the full audit, however. Yet it is a worthwhile alternative during a time of elevated health concerns–an option that brings significant value to the process of saving energy.
Customers are crucial to every part of the virtual experience and are involved in every step of the assessment. The hands-on experience brings an excellent educational opportunity to benefit from an energy efficiency professional in a one-on-one setting.
Get Yours Today!
Find out if your utility or energy efficiency service provider offers virtual energy audits. Some offers are quite generous to the customer. Visit your utility’s website to learn more.
Virtual Audit Program Examples
Programs vary considerably. You will want to study the opportunity in your area and make sure your questions are answered before signing up.
Note: This list includes a few programs in two regions but new ones are frequently being added nationwide.
Massachusetts – Mass Save: Remote No-Cost Home Energy Assessments: Customers who schedule by 9/30/20 can get 100% off insulation installation.
Illinois – ComEd virtual Home Energy Assessment program
Minnesota – Xcel Energy: Xcel Energy’s Home Energy Squad
Missouri – Ameren Missouri’s Real Estate Audits program Instead of an appointment, the assessment is self-guided. Complete the Self-Assessment and receive a $50 incentive.