Are you doing remote audits?

Are you auditing buildings remotely? Finding ways to get homeowners/building managers involved? Video chats? Bill analysis? 

We've had some requests from the commercial side for remote audit tools (ones that leverage bill and/or equipment logging data and minimal characteristic data) but nothing from residential folks.

Is anyone finding success with remote audits? Please share your tips!

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  • This has spurred a lot of discussion among our group - the members of which cover the Province of Ontario. We are looking at, if all goes well for the next three weeks, a June 1 return to home visits.  Because blower door test are a standard part of our assessments, we are thinking of still having the home visit but having the client do some of the work for us ahead of time to minimize contact.  Some are predicting that having the client do the bulk of the measuring, insulation assessement, etc will actually mean more work as we coach people through the process. What has been your experience with the length of time taken per audit for data collection?  Does a 2 hour audit turn into a 3  hour audit or a 1.5 hour audit?

  • We haven't started doing remote audits.  The big roadblock I see is the blower door test. But I see a lot of postives coming out of this approach.   Having the client fill in most of the data collection form, then doing a video chat, followed by a shorter visit to do the blower door test and fill in any remaining information gaps will allow us to do more houses in less time.  That's a big issue here in Canada where we face a shortage of advisors if we ever ramp up to the number of audits and retrofits that we need to do.  The other big positive is that our clients will be much more engaged in the process.  A more engaged client will identify new opportunities (i.e. the ones that they didn't already know about) themselves and, therefore, will be more likely to carry them out.

  • Here's our latest on remote audits with some examples and different formats being used by a variety of experimenters:

    Video Check-ups for Home Improvement and Resilience
    Kristin Dupre’s energy programs at Energy New England had ground to a halt. They had a full season scheduled ahead, but due to the coronavirus, all t…
  • Thanks Ryan for launching this topic. Utility Dive's piece:

    Efficiency sector gets creative to stem COVID-19 job losses, maintain energy savings
    Virtual energy audits, flexibility in measurement and verification processes, and a slate of new product offerings are helping to maintain the 2.4 mi…
  • Snugg Home has been trialing this method for the past few weeks and I was a bit surprised to find how seamless the process is. We wrote up a blog post about it which you can read here, and I'd much appreciate continueing the discussion. I think there are few learnings to share about how best to guide homeowners during the process, but any technical challenges appear surmountable. One takeway from working with auditors and contractors was concern about the quailty of a remote audit, and the natural conclusion is to complete any needed detail (envelope evaluation) at the beginnning of retrofit so you have a solid baseline. Now, in validateing this approach with utility program managers, what emerged are two major evolutions in approach - first is that 'remote' is here to stay and not a wait-and-see; and second is the expectation of better cost effectiveness through upfront filtering with virtual and remote, and higher customer particpation rates. What's interesting is how well aligned the joint benefit of this shift is - loading up the pipeline of qualified jobs, both for contractors and utility programs, with less effort and cost of rolling trucks. I think we will see stimulus monies coming into this sector so we need to be ready, and remote audits can get us there.

    Remote Energy Audits in the Time of COVID-19
    People across the US are shying away from inviting energy specialists into their homes. Energy efficiency programs have paused  their in-home energy…
    • Thank you for the blog link - and your thoughts in comments. I will share with my team at E4!


    • Nice post. What did you use for the video chat? Thanks!

      • In this case we used facetime and that allowed for reveresing the camera, using the phone's light, and collecting snapshots. I'll try What's App which is universal, I need to try Duo which is the preferred Andoid option. Anyone else try a different app?

  • Please consider: Steve Cowell* says "Remote Assessment" is more accurate terminology for the type of work being pioneered by the utilities and EE service providers he currently works with to advance these options and training initiatives. Steve says "virtual audit" in particular can be misleading.

    *(E4TheFuture president, BPA board member and past president)

    • Yeah, but the problem with "remote assessment" is that many folks are using that to refer to data analysis of smart meters and other related assessments. I discussed this briefly in my article. There's not a clear solution yet. The chaos of an emerging field... 

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