I first learned in my BPI class of 2008 was that we would not be using or taught to use any energy modeling software. The story was that they did like the previously used software (TREAT) and would be providing a new program "in the future." Didn't happen.
Who knows of an reasonably easy to use, reasonably priced, reasonably accurate modeling software?
I'm a participating contractor in the Energy Upgrade California program. Energy Pro is the only software the program is supporting. In all the contractor meetings I attend I hear bitter complaining about the software and its purported failures as a energy modeling program. I'd love to know who at the CEC or CPUC decided that this software would be a good fit for the program and if they have plans to push for improvements or expand our options.
I have heard some good things about equest software lately. I'd love to hear from people who use it to model energy savings from their building efficiency upgrade projects.
If you are working in PG&E territory you can now use Recurve software for your submittals into the Energy Upgrade California Program (using a report that is completely generated within the software) . We are also working with the CEC to gain approval for the Recurve software so you can use it in all other areas/utilities participating in the EUC program.
For more information go to the website: http://software.recurve.com/
or call 1-877-594-5391
We will keep you posted with our CEC approval status.
Here in California, we are pretty much committed to using EnergyPro (CalPro version for HERS). That is because our new state-wide building code (Title 21) requires HERS audits for specific parts of new construction or HVAC modifications to existing buildings. Also, many local building departments are using HERS raters or Whole House as "Special Inspectors". Many of the reports are required to be submitted to the California Energy Commision via the only approved provider, CalCERTS. CalPro has be modified to seemlessly provide the reqired information, which , if acceptable to the CEC, issues an approval document. All this works.
HERS Whole House pros can also help model plans for new residential construction and sign plan submissions.
UNFORTUNATELY there is no requirement for checking or a way to record any information regarding combustion safety. As the modeling aspects of EnergyPro help to seal the envelop ever tighter; the lack of combustion testing is potentially VERY dangerous. Naturally, required or not, most of us do combustion testing during the final. We don't get paid for it. But, morally, there is no option. (I should add that fresh air input and circulation is required for Title 24. This helps mitigate the possible CO danger IF the fresh air circulation is functioning properly and not turned off to save energy.)
There are a variety of energy modeling software programs for performing home audits and ratings. TREAT, from Performance Systems Development, is a stalwart program that is DOE-approved for weatherization audits, passes BESTEST, and has been market tested over many years. It acknowledges that home energy modeling is a complex task and, as such, it provides an extensive array of modeling inputs and building attribute libraries. It also allows you to bundle improvements for the purpose of predicting net energy savings from grouped retrofits. TREAT is ideal for users that need or enjoy the detail it provides, as well as those with special needs in performing multi-family and small commercial buildings audits.
So what tools are design-appropriate for those that neither want nor need this sort of detail and flexibility? Performance Systems Development is meeting this need with software called Green Energy Surveyor. Surveyor is protocol-driven, offers a simplified interface and uses the TREAT modeling engine. It guides the service provider through the audit process using interview menus which ask for directly observable inputs, not modeling focused ones. This interface makes is much easier to use while and delivers greatly consistency between service providers while still providing the accuracy of TREAT. Surveyor integrates with Green Energy Compass for seamless data transfer, utility bill disaggregation, and program QA tracking. This integration relieves the contractor from the heavy data reporting requirements of efficiency programs thereby optimizing your jobsite audit time. Homeowner energy savings reports, contracts, and the contractor workscope are all automated allowing you to present effectively to the homeowner and land new business. Presently, Surveyor is a field tool available only efficiency programs that use Green Energy Compass as the home performance workflow tracking hub.
Home energy auditors will probably have a lot more software choices and flexibility after the adoption (soon?) of the home performance XML schema (hpXML). Maybe that's wishful thinking. ReCurve software may be great, if you can get your hands on it. It seems to be vaporware for many of us HP folks. I'm using EnergyPro to do modeling, but writing my own reports by hand using templates of my own design.
There's a new online tool under development called Energy Performance Score (EPS) from Earth Advantage Institute. I attended a webinar about it today. Its going to be a 'pay-as-you' pricing model, like ReCurve and they have plans to support hpXML. EPS is easy to use and has a simple, nice looking report with a home score.
The folks who make TREAT are deep into development of hpXML, so count on TREAT to support the new standard.
I've been using Recurve software for the last month or so and am totally impressed. I'm able to input all the data about the house as well as my proposed upgrades, their costs and energy use. It creates a clean report with a long list of choices of report pages and a proposal for the customer. It worked great on the 10,000sf+ houses I modeled and I look forward to doing more standard houses with it. The way it shows %age energy reductions in kwh and therms as well as total e usage is a beautiful thing. The report it delivers for a customer is clean and professional.
The problem I see is that the CEC is dragging its feet on approving what seems to me to be a fully functonal software system built by a local business with world class web pros. If PG&E has approved it, why not the CEC? I urge hp pros to contact the CEC (Deputy Director - Panama Bartholomy, firstname.lastname@example.org 916-654-5013 and ask for them to hurry up and approve recurve software so we can do our job and not have to waste time creating our own custom templates and use software created for a purpose other than our own.
With this software approved I know I can make more money as a hp contractor.
George and other interested auditors/contractors etc.,
While we at Recurve appreciate your interest in accelerating the CEC approval process, please do not contact Panama Bartholomy with this request: he is aware of the issue. We are working diligently with the CEC and we expect to have good news to share soon.
What we need is someone to do an unbiased, "Consumer Reports" style study of all the residential retrofit software tools out there, and list all the pros and cons of each. Which have been approved for what programs and which ones haven't, which ones do a better job at X but are not as good at Y, etc. There are so many claims out there by people with vested interests in making money for their own companies, it is impossible to get a clear picture of all the programs on the market and the capabilities, limitations, and pros and cons of each.
That sound like a job for Home Energy Magazine.