Power and renewables

Virtual energy audits key to engaging customers and scaling clean energy

Why Utilities Need More than an Out-of-the-Box CRM

Contact us:

Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier

Head of Section, Residential

Lance Holmes

Lance Holmes

Project Management, Residential

Virtual energy audits provide a safer, more cost-effective, & more scalable alternative to in-person audits. Find out about virtual audits from DNV GL.

The energy audit has been a cornerstone of utilities’ clean energy programs for years. Energy audits enable residential and commercial customers to understand their energy usage patterns and identify opportunities to reduce waste and conserve energy. Auditors assess everything from windows and doors to lighting and HVAC to insulation to appliances and more. Energy audits help customers save substantial amounts of money while helping utilities achieve their energy efficiency goals.   

However, in-person audits pose some challenges. Scheduling and logistics can be tricky, requiring customers to be available during large blocks of time. Locations are often remote, requiring an auditor to travel long distances. Safety can also be an issue, whether contending with dangerous job sites, hazardous driving conditions, or contagious illnesses.  

Thanks to advancing technology, virtual energy audits can be done from anywhere and have become an increasingly popular option. Below, I’ll share how DNV GL’s partnership with Blitzz is helping to reshape the face of energy audits. 

How Virtual Energy Audits Work

Blitzz is a remote, visual assistance platform that enables video-based customer engagement using a smartphone or iPad. The Blitzz platform provides a straightforward, user-friendly interface—no downloads required. The customer simply clicks on a link sent to their mobile device via text to engage with an energy professional.  

During the virtual engagement, the auditor guides the customer throughout their home or business. Video technology enables the auditor to see what the customer sees. The auditor can take snapshots of specific items and draw on the images to show customers where, for example, to access furnace filters or wrap hot water pipes with insulation. Optical character recognition technology enables an auditor to capture barcodes to identify specific product models and determine right away if a product qualifies for an incentive or rebate program.  

Why Virtual Audits Are Better 

Virtual audits provide multiple advantages over in-person audits. For starters, virtual energy audits are far safer. Poor driving conditions, allergens, unpredictable pets, and on-site hazards can impact auditors’ health and wellbeing. Viruses and other contagions also pose a risk. During the global health pandemic, most in-person audit programs were paused to help prevent virus transmission. But utilities that moved to virtual audits are not only keeping customers and auditors safer, they’re continuing to move their energy programs forward.  

Virtual energy audits are also more cost effective and scalable. Virtual audits eliminate travel time and associated costs, especially important in remote and hard-to-reach areas where auditors can spend hours traveling. Eliminating travel also reduces emissions and environmental impact while avoiding scheduling hiccups caused by traffic delays.  

 

Furthermore, although free measure installations and blower door tests cannot be performed, the upside is that virtual audits can be completed more quickly, benefiting both the utility and their customers. Whereas the typical in-person residential audit might take two hours, a virtual audit can be completed inside one hour. Additionally, rather than setting aside an approximate appointment window, customers have an exact time, a convenience they appreciate. And because customers are highly involved and engaged in the process, virtual audits tend to be far more interactive and educational, a benefit that customers appreciate.  

How EVOLVE Integrates with Virtual Audits 

From a utility standpoint, the ability to seamlessly integrate virtual audits into existing systems saves time and helps turn leads into projects. EVOLVE Digital Suite is a customizable set of integrated solutions designed to help utilities accelerate energy program success. Together, the tools streamline program management and connect utilities, customers, trade allies, and distributors to valuable insights, resources, and incentives. 

EVOLVE 360 is an end-to-end, Microsoft Dynamics-based CRM that goes beyond contact and opportunity tracking to deliver full line-of-sight into the project pipeline and every touchpoint along the way. EVOLVE 360 securely and automatically captures and integrates data from remote virtual engagements to improve energy performance.  

Screen captures, nameplate optical character recognition scans, notes, and additional data get uploaded to EVOLVE 360 to catalog energy performance opportunities and turn leads into projects. Additionally, inspection result data is loaded into the platform, helping drive quality management. These benefits enable energy advisors to remain fully focused on customers, knowing that data and notes will make it directly into EVOLVE.   

Virtual energy audits are a safer, more scalable, and more interactive alternative to traditional, in-person engagements, benefiting both utilities and their customers. To learn more about virtual energy audits or the EVOLVE Digital Suite, be sure to reach out.  

Contact us:

Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier

Head of Section, Residential

Lance Holmes

Lance Holmes

Project Management, Residential