If you're involved with a Weatherization Assistance Program administered by the state, then you've used the National Energy Audit Tool (NEAT). It's developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Programmed in Microsoft Access, it has potential to be a useful tool outside WAP programs. However, there are limitations, primarily around the number of items you can put in the program. See these screenshots:
NEAT can only handle 24 Windows.
NEAT can only handle 18 walls.
These limitations are barriers to NEAT being used to enable the private pay energy auditing business. For example, it's easy to go beyond 18 walls in a modern, two story home with many different architectural features.
Isn't it time energy auditing benefits from open source software the same way other businesses do? It's been estimated that 70% of all websites run on Apache, an open source web server. Imagine the energy savings we could unlock with an open source auditing tool.
Shouldn't NEAT be open sourced? Doing so would have a number of benefits:
- other developers could create versions that do not have limitations such as these.
- developers could program the tool in different languages other than Access to provide a web-based auditing tool, or a desktop one with better usability.
- developers can stand on the shoulders of giants to make a better tool for energy auditors and tool for homeowners.
- a popular, open source auditing tools could help drive standards which all developers need to create useful tools
- by reviewing the code, the industry can learn from the ORNL experts on how to model energy usage.
What do you think?