Municipal light departments participating in the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) residential energy efficiency program will begin offering virtual energy efficiency audits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MMWEC reported on March 27.
The new service, which will include virtual energy efficiency audits as well as virtual verification for energy efficiency rebates, is being offered through MMWEC’s Home Energy Loss Prevention Services (HELPS) program. Nineteen consumer-owned municipal utilities participate in HELPS.
The virtual audit process is expected to reduce the number of homeowners waiting for home energy efficiency audits. Due to coronavirus, all in-person audits were suspended in March, MMWEC noted. Homeowners who had previously scheduled or are looking to schedule in-person audits will be offered a virtual audit in lieu of an in-person audit.
Auditors will reach out to homeowners to offer the service and determine if the customer is eligible for a virtual audit. Eligibility will be determined by a series of questions assessing the customer’s access to technology that can produce either video or pictures, the customer’s comfort accessing various areas of the home, and the customer’s interest level. Customers not interested in a virtual audit or those deemed not eligible will receive an in-person audit at a later date.
MMWEC said that auditors have access to a range of technologies, and can work with homeowners through various voice, picture and video chatting apps. Those without smart phones may be able to use a landline phone and submit digital photos.
The auditor will virtually walk the customer through the same process as they would during an in-person visit, according to John Majercak, president of the Center for EcoTechnology, which conducts the audits.
“This should be a seamless process for the customer,” Majercak said. “The customer will receive the same standard, detailed report they would at an in-home audit, along with rebate information. And we will mail them the free LED lightbulbs they would otherwise receive.”
“There will be no pressure for homeowners to participate in a virtual audit if they would prefer to wait for an in-person audit,” Joseph Coles, MMWEC’s Energy Efficiency program manager and administrator of the HELPS program, said.
MMWEC is a non-profit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, created by an Act of the General Assembly in 1975 and authorized to issue debt to finance a wide range of energy facilities.
MMWEC provides a variety of power supply, financial, risk management and other services to the state’s consumer-owned municipal utilities. It has 20 municipal utility members and 28 project participants.