physical-vs-virtual-energy-audits

Physical vs Virtual Energy Audits

Doing an energy audit can help you identify opportunities for savings, reduce your consumption, and improve your energy efficiency. The main goal of carrying out an energy audit is to better understand how energy is used on the business site and to find out where the energy efficiency could be better.  

Traditionally, audits are carried out in person. Recently, however, virtual audits are becoming increasingly popular. This is partially due to the fact that because of the COVID-19 pandemic many services started being carried out online. As virtual energy audits have proven to be very effective, they stuck around. However, you might be wondering if they are as effective as physical ones. In this article, we explain what virtual energy audits actually are and we discuss their effectiveness.  

What happens during a physical energy audit? 

If you decide to have an energy audit at your business premises, an auditor will come to take a look at your building. They will analyse things such as windows, lightning, walls, leaks, and insulation, to see if there are any issues and will help you find any areas where your building is losing energy.  

Based on these insights, an auditor will prepare a report that will help you understand your energy consumption. They will also highlight problems with your property and suggest measures to deal with them.  

The recommendations they will give you depend on the issues with your building as well as your average consumption. For example, lightweight suggestions might include replacing light bulbs with LED ones, fixing leaks, or switching to a smart meter. More concrete suggestions might include adding more insulation, or replacing old windows. 

You are of course not obliged to make any changes after an energy audit but doing so will help you reduce your energy bills and save money. There is no one answer to the question of how much you will save thanks to an energy audit but once you implement the energy efficiency adjustments and fix all the problems, you will quickly see your energy bills being significantly lower. So, if you are wondering whether investing into a professional energy audit is worth it, you should not hesitate any longer.  

What happened during airtual energy audit? 

Energy audits allow both commercial energy consumers like yours to understand your energy consumption and find out how you can reduce it. Thanks to that you can save money and lower your impact on the environment.  

A virtual audit process is carried out electronically through a phone call or  platforms such as Skype or Microsoft Teams. During the audit, an auditor goes through an audit protocol like during regular visits and they might ask you to share certain information on screen. Some of the things they will probably ask you about include: 

  • Your past energy bills 
  • An updated building plan 
  • A mechanical inventory list.  

Do not worry if you do not have some  of this information, however. The audit can still be carried out. Once the audit is finished, an auditor sends you an audit report.  

Virtual energy audits use innovation and can be a great option for those who value convenience. In times of COVID-19 it is also a great way to introduce energy efficiency measures without having to compromise the health and safety of energy consumers and auditors. Nevertheless, when deciding whether or not to choose a virtual energy audit over a physical one, it is important to also look at their limitations.  

Pros and cons of both audit types 

Audit type Pros Cons 
Physical There is a possibility of making changes during the visit Face to face interaction can improve customer service There is a possibility for having a better discussion in person They can sometimes bring bigger savings They can be more expensive than virtual ones as there are more logistics costs Savings might be more difficult to quantify 
Virtual Costs tend to be lower There might be better further monitoring They can be carried out more quickly Can be more convenient If there is no good quality data, the audit might not be fully effective Savings might be lower Customer experience tends to be worse 

Will virtual audits replace physical ones? 

Virtual audits can be a great option for those who are very busy running their business. They can be carried out quickly as there is no need to spend a lot of time waiting for an appointment. And, they tend to be less expensive than physical ones due to the fact that there are no logistic costs associated with them. A virtual audit is a powerful tool that can help people get insights and data about their usage. Based on these insights, energy consumers can reduce their overall costs and improve their energy efficiency.  

That said, virtual audits rely on a limited amount of data and they do not consider on-site observations, which can mean that their effectiveness is somewhat limited. Visiting the site and carrying out a physical audit allows to notice things that might be overlooked during a virtual audit.  

No technology can replace the experience and attention to detail that a professional auditor can offer. So, although virtual audits are growing in popularity and they can certainly be beneficial, it is unlikely that they will fully replace traditional physical audits.  

Should I choose a physical audit over a virtual one? 

The opportunity to talk to an auditor, ask them questions, and get clarifications of things that you might not fully understand, can allow you to take out significantly more from your audit than if you just have it online. And, when the auditor visits your business site, they might notice certain things that they would not see during a virtual audit. Also, during a physical audit you can show the auditor certain measures or aspects of your building’s design that you would not be able to show them remotely. These things mean not only a more efficient energy audit but also more savings for you. And, you want to be sure that you maximise your savings once you do the audit.  

If an auditor physically comes to your premises, they will use their observational skills, senses, and experience to fully understand how your business site works. During a physical audit you can also have a conversation with the auditor and receive professional energy efficiency advice that is often more detailed and easier to understand than a report following up a virtual audit.  

All these advantages do not mean that in-person audits do not come with certain drawbacks. Scheduling a visit and figuring out the logistics can be a challenging and lengthy process. If you need to urgently reduce your energy bills and you need the audit report almost immediately, carrying out a physical audit might not be the best choice. There are also certain disadvantages for those who are in charge of conducting the audit. Locations they have to travel to are often remote and safety on the premises might sometimes be an issue. If you know that any of those applies to your business, you should think about the wellbeing of the auditor too.  

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