What happens when a team of home energy specialists must stop making their regular house calls? They adapt to serve customers in a whole new way. And that’s how the Home Energy Squad developed its new virtual visits to help customers start down the path to saving energy and money.
“Homeowners want to become more energy-efficient and save on their energy bills. That demand is not slowing down," comments Rob O'Connell, a manager with Xcel Energy who supports Home Energy Squad. “With so many people having to stay at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, the spring weather is making us all restless to get things done around the house. So, we had to get creative.”
Pivoting to virtual home visits
The new virtual visits are provided free of charge and are designed to help customers discover no- and low-cost energy-saving opportunities. With today’s smartphone, tablet, and laptop wireless technology, Home Energy Squad staff can help homeowners determine the best ways to reduce their energy usage. A smartphone or laptop with internet access is required for the full experience, but a simplified virtual visit can be done over the telephone if needed.
Now more than ever, Home Energy Squad services are important for homeowners. A recent customer from Minneapolis commented, “We got the chance to look at our house in a new way and learn about all the ways we could improve our utility usage, both with on-the-spot fixes and with larger-scale projects in the future.”
Getting down to the details, from a distance
- The new virtual visit service is simple to use. First, a customer completes a brief questionnaire to share their energy use concerns and interests before the virtual visit.
- Next, the audio/video virtual home “walk-through” is conducted over the phone or device with remote energy experts to determine the best ways to reduce energy use around the house. The goal is to find those do-it-yourself no- and low-cost ways to save energy and money, some of which can be taken care of right there and then.
- After the virtual visit, the customer is sent a customized report complete with recommendations, suggestions on items they can easily install themselves, and the next steps for any additional potential energy efficiency projects. The Home Energy Squad virtual visit participants also have access to cost-free post-visit telephone consultations with a qualified energy advisor.
Good for all of us
Whether we're home working or learning, our additional time inside can mean higher energy bills and a heightened awareness of indoor air quality—good reasons to arrange a virtual visit.
It’s also interesting to note that conservation and energy efficiency programs like Home Energy Squad have made an impact. Since we began consistently tracking results in 1992, we estimate that the energy savings through our efficiency programs has avoided the need for 21 average-size power plants across Xcel Energy service territories. A significant benefit to all of us. Since we began consistently tracking results in 1992, we estimate that the energy savings through our efficiency programs has avoided the need for 21 average-size power plants.
Home Energy Squad is a program from Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. Learn more about Home Energy Squad virtual visits on the Center for Energy and Environment website.
Home Energy Squad is a program from Xcel Energy. Learn more about virtual visits on the website.