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7 Takeaways from Remote Home Energy Assessments Pilot: High Satisfaction, Engagement, and Accuracy

Climative partnered with EfficiencyOne and the Nova Scotia Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing on a remote home energy assessments pilot to compare a digital approach to traditional on-site EnerGuide assessments (completed 2022). The results paint a compelling case for using a digital approach to home energy assessments to engage homeowners, drive impactful retrofit actions, and quickly collect better data on the entire building stock. Read EfficiencyOne’s whitepaper to dig into the details. If you would like to discuss the results, we invite you to connect with a member of the Climative team. 

In this article, we’ll discuss seven key takeaways from the Pilot and what this means for future delivery of deep energy retrofit programs. 

Quick Stats:

4X Click Rate

Click rate for first-touch emails that contain a home energy pre-assessment, compared to emails that do not.

9X Enrolment

From emails promoting a remote (video) assessment compared to promoting an on-site assessment.

Up to 93% Accurate

Virtual and remote assessments are accurate, matching on-site retrofit recommendations by 93% in some categories.

9.5/10 Satisfaction

Homeowner satisfaction with the remote assessment experience was high – 9.5/10 on average.

Definitions

Before we dig into the results, let’s define some key terms.  

Virtual assessment (no-touch mass-market energy assessment): an AI-assisted report and retrofit recommendations calculated using data from trusted public data sources (tax assessment, weather data, and service area energy costs).  

Remote assessment (video home energy assessment): an energy assessment performed via phone or web conference that connects a homeowner with a professional energy advisor. Includes retrofit recommendations and coaching. 

On-site Assessment (Traditional EnerGuide home energy assessment): a professional energy advisor (EA) visits a home and collects 200 data points to calculate a home’s energy performance and make retrofit recommendations. 

Digital home energy assessment approach: a term to describe a holistic approach that enables all types of energy assessments through a web-based portal. Suggested reading on this topic: Scaling Net-Zero Retrofits Whitepaper 

Let’s dig into the results of the Pilot. 

Digital Home Energy Assessments Are Accurate Compared to On-Site EnerGuide Assessments

Compared to on-site EnerGuide audits, virtual assessments of home energy use were 77% accurate on average, and video assessments were 84% accurate. Retrofit recommendations between video and on-site assessments were similar (ranging from 77% – 93%). The Pilot found that the remote nature of the video assessment didn’t materially impact the energy advisor’s ability to make retrofit recommendations. With proper training, achieving consistent alignment between remote and on-site recommendations would be very easy.    

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Train EAs on remote home energy assessment technologies and processes. 
  • Allow for the use of virtual and remote home energy assessments to grant homeowners access to funding for some types of retrofits. 
  • Quickly pre-assess regional housing stocks with virtual home energy assessments to inform program and policy design. 
  • Use virtual and remote assessments to standardize the measurement of retrofit impact on energy across programs and provide more accuracy with household-level envelop characteristics and actual energy use data [read more: Section 7.7 Measurement and Verification]. 

Pre-Assessing Homes Yields Higher Citizen Engagement

When only 1-3% of the housing stock is assessed annually, we need to find new ways to engage the large majority of homeowners. The Pilot measured citizen engagement by comparing first-touch email click rates and program enrolment rates with three approaches.   

On-Site Email Approach: email inviting homeowners to conduct an on-site EnerGuide assessment. 

Virtual Email Approach: email inviting homeowners to view the results of a no-touch mass-market energy assessment (virtual), with a call-to-action to enroll in an on-site EnerGuide assessment.  

Video Email Approach: email inviting homeowners to conduct a remote energy assessment.  

The results indicate the highest email click rate was for the Virtual Email Approach, which includes a pre-assessment of the home and a call to action to conduct an on-site audit. The email click rate was 20%, which is 4x higher than the traditional approach that promotes an on-site audit with no pre-assessment. Another interesting takeaway: emails promoting a remote assessment yielded an enrollment rate of 2.6%, nearly 9x that of the traditional email approach. 

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Engage homeowners earlier in the retrofit process by providing a free home pre-assessment. 
  • Drive higher enrolment rates by providing a remote home energy assessment option.  
  • Combine these recommendations: email a home energy pre-assessment with a call-to-action to book a remote home energy assessment. 

Homeowners Report High Satisfaction with Virtual and Remote Home Energy Assessments

Customer satisfaction from the video application experience was rated at 9.5/10. Homeowners cited convenience as a leading factor in their satisfaction; the calls were short and didn’t require much time away from work. Homeowners also reported the virtual home energy assessment was easy to understand, even as a stand-alone report, before they engaged with an energy advisor.  

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Drive higher customer satisfaction by making the energy assessment process more convenient.  
  • Digital tools like virtual and remote home energy assessments make more efficient use of time for homeowners. 
citizen-led home decarbonization climative

On-Site Energy Assessments Take Three Times Longer than Remote Home Energy Assessments

EfficiencyOne reports the average time to complete an EnerGuide assessment (including assessment, modeling, administration, and travel time) is about 7 hours. Compare that to a remote energy assessment estimated at about 2 hours.

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Improve retrofit cycle time and reduce program bottlenecks at the Energy Assessment Stage by offering the option of a virtual or remote home energy assessment.
  • Increase the capacity of EAs by offering training on remote energy assessment technologies. 

The average time to complete an on-site EnerGuide assessment is about 7 hours compared to a remote energy assessment estimated at about 2 hours.

Remote Home Energy Assessments Give Homeowners More Coaching Time from Energy Advisors

Despite the shorter assessment time, remote video energy assessments provide homeowners with more quality coaching time from energy advisors. In the Pilot, energy advisors reported more “face time” with homeowners than an on-site assessment, as the homeowner must be engaged during a video call. They actively participate in the assessment, providing more opportunities for the EA to build rapport and pass on personalized recommendations. The remote assessment call is also recorded and provided to homeowners as a resource. Although the impact of this resource was not measured during this Pilot, presumably, this provides another tangible benefit to homeowners.  

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Use remote home energy assessments as a cost-effective, convenient, and scale-able way to coach homeowners.  
  • Offer homeowners an energy concierge service with personalized coaching using digital energy assessment tools. 

Professional Energy Advisors Enjoy Conducing Home Energy Assessments Remotely Via Video

Following the Pilot, energy advisors generally had positive feedback regarding virtual home energy assessments. Some of the positive points include:  

  • Time savings: video calls were faster to complete than EnerGuide assessments (1 hour and 30 minutes compared to four or more hours). 
  • Efficiency: energy advisors could complete much of their record-keeping during the video calls, and they experienced few connectivity issues, even in rural areas.  
  • User-friendly technology: Energy advisors and customers found the video application user-friendly, and the energy modeling procedures were built on familiar elements for EAs, further reducing the learning curve. 

 

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Funding agencies and program managers should allow remote home energy assessments to approve funding for some types of retrofits.  
  • Use virtual home energy assessments as “lead generation” to drive demand for remote assessments, EnerGuide assessments, and retrofits. 
  • Offer training for EAs to deliver remote coaching services to homeowners. 

Remote Home Energy Assessments Have a Lower Environmental Impact

The Pilot calculated that transportation for each EnerGuide assessment generates an average of 2.9 Kg of CO2 emissions per assessment, or 45 tons of emissions, to complete 15,720 assessments in Nova Scotia in 2022. When only half of the first assessments result in completed home efficiency upgrades, roughly 29 tons of GHGs were emitted without any measurable emissions reduction.  

Recommendations for future programs:  

  • Programs with a KPI to reduce GHGs should use virtual or remote home energy assessments, particularly for rural homes that would incur long travel distances.  
A Climative home energy report on a smarphone
Example of a Climative home energy report

Summary of Takeaways and Recommendations

The results of the Pilot on remote energy assessments for residential homes paint a compelling picture of how a digital approach to home energy assessments can help scale deep energy retrofits. The convenience of these digital tools makes better use of resources and is more convenient without sacrificing accuracy or the satisfaction of EAs or customers. Read the full paper to dig into the results.

EfficiencyOne remote audits whitepaper summary notes

Please read the whitepaper Scaling Net-Zero Retrofits to learn more about how these tools could be deployed in a web-based platform. Alternatively, connect with a member of the Climative team to discuss use cases. 

Winston Morton

Winston Morton

Winston has 25 years experience as a leader in the telecommunications and utility industries. His in-depth knowledge of energy analysis and large-scale web-based platform deployments informs Climative's strategy in his role as CEO.

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