Virtual Energy Audits Deliver Real Savings

Virtually every aspect of life has changed in some way due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. That certainly is true in the energy efficiency industry, where companies like Energy Insight, Inc., are transforming the ways in which professional energy engineers and analysts work and deliver services. One clear example is the growing trend of virtual energy auditing.

Energy Analyst Ellie Rabine conducting virtual energy audit.

Energy Analyst Ellie Rabine enters site visit notes from a virtual energy audit into her iPad.

Under “normal” circumstances, most residential and commercial energy audits are done in person, with trained personnel visiting homes or businesses to gather information about equipment and systems, energy usage patterns, and savings goals. A virtual energy audit accomplishes nearly the same thing, using existing smartphone, computer, and Internet technologies.

Energy Insight recently began to deliver virtual energy audits on behalf of electric and natural gas utility clients in the Upper Midwest. This service enables utilities to reach customers with energy- and cost-saving opportunities while honoring the recommendations of public health officials and the orders of state governors.

The process is easy for customers of participating utilities. It just takes a scheduled time and an Internet-connected laptop, tablet, or handheld mobile device. An energy professional guides the audit, leading customers through their homes or businesses and collecting insights into lighting, appliances, heating and cooling equipment, and other factors that might impact energy usage. Participants sometimes are asked to take a few simple measurements, read model numbers, or zoom in on details that could help the energy auditor identify potential savings without physically being on site.

“Our goal is to deliver virtual energy audits that are personal, meaningful, and safe for both customers and members of our team,” said Energy Insight Project Manager Charlotte Currier, who oversees multi-family building efficiency and natural gas energy efficiency programs for some of Minnesota’s largest utilities. “Customers who have participated so far find the process engaging, educational, and beneficial in terms of both energy and cost savings.”

Virtual energy auditing is a valuable tool that allows employees in the energy efficiency field to work through the pandemic, delivering tangible cost savings to individuals and businesses. This combination is especially important in these uncertain economic times. While there will always be a need for on-site, comprehensive energy audits, some industry experts predict that virtual auditing will continue even after the pandemic subsides.

“We continually look for new, innovative ways to deliver services,” said Energy Insight Vice President Matt Haley. “Virtual energy auditing is another way to meet the unique needs of customers, utilizing technology most people already have in their homes and businesses. It might become the ‘new normal’ for utilities to offer customers a range of energy auditing services that includes virtual options.”

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