For the past 2 years, I have been manually collecting data and generating reports in word. I offer a short report (4-7 pages) which covers the basic BPI requirements and red flags any hazards, and a much more robust report (over 20 pages) which serves as a long term guide towards sustainability. The larger report features many graphs, pictures, and site specific images.

 

 

While my clients think the large report is fantastic, it takes an inordinate amount of time to create. I have been looking for the "silver bullet" software solution that makes the auditing process, reporting, retrofit scope of work, and sales much more efficient. Last spring, I participated in a webinar for Recurve and I had hoped that Recurve would be that "silver bullet", but I have no idea if or when it will ever be released. 

 

A homeowner hired me to retrofit their house after they had an audit by a large company with locations in 3 states. Their report was atrocious. They erroneously overestimated the square footage by 1500 sq.ft. and therefore all their conclusions were WAY OFF. While they had 5 pages of IR images depicting air leakage, they offered no solutions. Even with the evidence of so much air leakage, the auditor declared them OK because the error in house size threw off all of his air leakage conclusions. The only concrete solution this company offered was to change light bulbs and buy a solar attic fan; which they happen to sell. The home in question had mostly cathedral ceilings and an attic fan would have only exaserbated the stack effect due to inadequate passive roof ventilation. Clearly, this company's system did not work. This type of shoddy reporting will give us all a BAD name. Maybe a better software and system would have helped this inexperienced auditor produce an accurate and helpful report. But clearly this company has much larger issues too.

 

1) How do you pre-qualify a homeowner before the audit?

2) How are you auditors collecting data, generating reports, and selling retrofits?

3) What software, if any do you use?

4) How do you handle images? 

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I think most of us would like the silver bullet software. I am not sure it exists.

 

My method for data depends on the home but I follow the same path. It was not trained but developed through experience.

Selling is the art of biding. You have to be comfortable with what you charge and have explanations to why you charge this amount.

 

I use word. I use past audits as a template and add what is needed and convert detail of each audit. I then convert to Adobe PDF

 

I put the images into the report itself. I do not use all my images that I get during the audit. I save them to a file with the audit for future reference. I think there is a point where the customer has too much information and you need to boil it down as to not be confusing.

Has anyone used the NEAT software for their Energy audits?

I also listened as Recurve promised alot of features, applications uses- they should have that as a finished

polished tool ready for market. Sadly its just not there yet!

 

 But they might yet get it right- they got alot of investment $$$ - some from Lowes, and some from Vc$$ who understand

what the proper tool will mean( for the industry of Energy Loss Analysis aka Energy Auditing). Alot of the best auditing

gets done because of your dilegence -as an example! Patience will help, within 2 yrs - Data and intel acquistion and

evaluation for Energy auditing will improve vastly! Thats my 2 cents!

Here in California as part of Energy Upgrade California testing in and out by a BPI BA is required and Energy Pro software is recommend in PG&E territory and required in the rest of the state I believe. I never heard back from RECURVE after watching the webinar last spring.

Here is some info

EnergyPro Webinar

Martyn Dodd of EnergySoft, the maker of EnergyPro, offered a demonstration of the software basics and answered contractors’ questions about using EnergyPro in the Energy Upgrade Calfornia program at a live webinar in September. These videos are a recording of that live event. For additional EnergyPro support, read our EnergyPro Tips or visit our EnergyPro FAQ.

Is it available Nationwide, Jim? Cost?

Jim,

Thanks for the link. I am an Energy Pro user and the webinar was helpful. I was wondering what the EUC was looking for.

Robert,

I believe it is available Nationwide. It has about 15 areas for PA in the database. Zones 4a 5A and 6A are listed as well some counties Iam unfamiliar with. Typically it use airport as they are used for much of the weather data

How it fits in with Resnet which I believe is not at all is the answer. It uses ASHRAE and US weather data as its basis so it would function fine in your area. You would not need the title 24 modules as it is exclusive to California. If you were to get the Residential performance it would be 500 dollars.

http://www.energysoft.com/main/page_energypro_residential_modules.html

Energy Pro is a great program that with a little help becomes easy to use. It is versatile once you learn a few tricks. Data entry is pretty quick.There are wizards and then you can go back and manipulate the data. I print thereports from Energy Pro and provide them as a supplement at the end of the report. I refer to the data it produces but the interface and reports are better suited for government and utilities and are not all that customer friendly.

It does have blower door numbers and duct leakage numbersand the adjustments will produce in reports as well as insulation, windows,mechanical systems etc. You can upgrade them in software and see the results.

I still am producing my word and am learning indesign for complete reports. Energy Pro has no CAZ capabilities. Nor is there much of the details of where leaks are or how to fix them. Likewise with a IR report

 Try calling 800-983-6322 and checking out their online audit software. Allows, pics, logo uploads; drop down boxes that remember for quick typing. All the BPI CAZ information fields are preloaded and the best part is that they will give you a trial version for 30 days to check it out. After that a one time fee of $399.00 and a yearly fee of about 100+ Also allows to convert to PDF and produce a nice report for your customer. I was waiting for Recurve as well and found this program. www.weatherizationcourse.com I produce this in conjunction with the energy pro report and my customers love the detailed information

hi Robert,

I hesitate replying to this since I work for Hancock software, but Hancock has a suite that may interest you - the HEAT software is an iPad energy audit tool which hooks into the workflow management WAP tool. This gives you the full on-site capabilities of analyzing the home, followed by selecting Measures, creating work orders, auditing the installation, and billing the retrofits. Its full weatherization lifeycle management. We are in use in 9 states and at more than 200 agencies.

Drop me a line if you would like to learn more:

info (at) hancocksoftware.com

 

Thanks,
Nicole Reineke

Product Manager

HEAT's app works on the ipad.  An energy auditor from DC that uses it is speaking at a webinar Best Practice next week, 3 p.m. ET Tuesday April 19, 2011 -- sign up to see it here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/565383497   . He'll talk about what it's like to not use paper and carry the iPad in tight spaces, as well as the energy modeling capabilities.

 

Here is HEAT on the app store:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/heat-professional-home-energy/id4261...

 

Here are some links to lists of residential retrofit software programs:

 

Building Energy Software Tools Directory:

http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/tools_directory/subjects.cfm...

 

DOE Approved Tools for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP):

http://www.psdconsulting.com/software/treat/doe-approval

http://www.waptac.org/Energy-Audits/Weatherization-Assistant.aspx

http://www.waptac.org/Energy-Audits/Other-Energy-Audits.aspx

http://www.waptac.org/Energy-Audits/Multi002DFamily-Audits.aspx

 

The Hancock software looks promising.  I think Recurve is rolling out slowly.  It was vaporware last year but it is becoming available.  CSG has a new version of their Home Energy Analyzer software, although I don't think that is available to the general public.  TREAT has been the staple of east coast Home Performance programs for years. 

 

I agree that what the industry needs is an easy to use software program that:

1) Facilitiates data entry during the audit, on a laptop or smartphone or pad.

2) Is BPI standards friendly and includes all combustion and CAZ testing results and action levels with red flags, alerts, stop work warnings, etc.

3) Generates reports with accurate current energy use and savings estimates for recommended measures,

4) Generates proposed contracts with simple payback periods and SIRs for each measure and for the overall project,

5) Generates them quickly on site right after the audit is completed so they can be printed out and/or emailed right away for the customer,

6)  Creates workplans, schedues, and materials lists for in house crews and subcontractors,

7) Facilitates data entry during the test out and generates a final test out report after all work is complete. 

8)  Data can be downloaded into a database back at the office. 

 

 

 

Adam,

I totally agree.  The good news is this will be solved fairly quickly.  Seems money pours into the pricey stuff.  What worries me most is that so little training and job creation has been done for the "boots on the ground" tier of the pyramid.  Once we know what to do, where and how to do it, we still will lack the laborers.

Yep.  There really is very little if any training available for the ground level laborers, and what does exist isn't all that great.  And no matter how great training is, nothing takes the place of real experience.  Plus not a lot of people want to be a weatherization install laborer.  Everyone wants to be the auditor and move up the ladder quickly. 

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