Energy Efficiency

Energy New England offers remote home energy assessment option for MLP customers

Energy New England (ENE) on April 9 said it is offering a remote home energy assessment option to customers of participating Municipal Light Plants (MLP). The effort started on March 13 after a stay at home advisory was issued in Massachusetts.

ENE, which provides residential conservation services to 21 MLPs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-home energy assessments were suspended mid-March.

ENE quickly transitioned over to a remote home energy assessment experience, piloting the concept in 20 homes by the end of March. There have been more than 40 virtual audits to date. Homeowner response was overwhelmingly positive, ENE said, adding that homeowners appreciated the convenience and personalization they received.

By using the video feature on iPhone or Android phones, ENE advisors can capture information about a home needed to create a comprehensive home energy assessment report.

A follow up call is scheduled to review the report and prioritize a short- and long-term savings plan. LED bulbs and other energy saving measures normally installed at the time of the audit are either delivered at a later time or mailed. 

John Tzimorangas, President and CEO of ENE, noted that the advisors have worked with the customer ahead of time “to prep them with what they will need for the virtual audit, flashlight, tape measure, etc.”

The advisors then have the customer work with them on an iPad, phone or camera to get to all the places and equipment they would traditionally look at in the home and take note of these items. 

“After they are done with the virtual audit, they compile the same report, through our SnuggPro system and send the customer a report, as they would with a regular audit,” he said in an email.

ENE noted that with a stay-at-home advisory issued by Gov. Charlie Baker, homeowners and renters may see an increase to their monthly utility bills. “This program offers a convenient, accessible solution to provide education and assistance for short- and long-term energy saving investments for your home,” ENE said.

There are currently 19 public power systems that are participating and offering the remote energy audit to their customers, Tzimorangas noted. “We are also working on a pilot C&I audit with one system for small business remote energy audits.”

Tzimorangas was asked if there is any possibility that once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided ENE will continue to offer the remote home energy assessment as an alternative to in-home audits.

“I believe we will be doing this activity remote for quite some time into the future and I do see us” offering this option when audits are scheduled. 

“I am not sure people will be ready anytime soon, to let people into their homes, even for a good reason,” like an energy audit, “so I think as we complete more and more of these and get feedback from the customers, we can improve the process, but I do see us offering this for the foreseeable future,” he said.

ENE noted that customers of participating utilities can schedule an appointment via telephone or going to the ENE energy efficiency website.