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?

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Al-

The lack of response here is quite telling. I posted a similar question on Jan. 2nd: http://homeenergypros.lbl.gov/forum/topics/energy-auditing-software...

 

With the Homestar program in limbo, I suspect there has been a cooling off of these efforts. Meanwhile, I use data from the DOE, Home Energ Saver, and any other credible source to project savings for my clients. It's certainly not sophisticated, but until a comprehensive workable auditing software is available for mac, it's the best I can do.

There are some major efforts by a few organizations in this area at the moment, some of which will be online-only. I'm involved with a major effort here but for the moment it is only available by those involved in programs we administer.  For the independent auditor, there is TREAT and Rem/Design, a new offering by Recurve, although I don't know if it has actually been put into production, and a handful of others.  In addition to the forum post that Robert posted, you can see other tools at:

http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/tools_directory/alpha_list.c...

As both a full-time software developer and part-time auditor (BPI certified Building Analyst and Envelope Professional), I can tell you that modeling a home's existing condition, its energy consumption and how prescriptive recommendations will change those conditions is an incredibly complex task and it takes lots of research and historical data as well as the ability to compare predictions with actual energy usage to produce reasonably accurate predictions of future.  The permutations of equipment and existing conditions are endless, the condition of equipment, the quality of installation and human behavior in the home are also large factors.  It's a big job and very expensive software to write but I believe that you will have an increasing number of choices over the next couple of years with increasingly accurate results so keep looking and try to be somewhat patient!

ARE WE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE?

As Steven has stated, "modeling a home's existing condition, its energy consumption and how prescriptive recommendations will change those conditions is an incredibly complex task". Furthermore, the savings estimates obtained by examining the "whole house" have comsistently been overstated. The task becomes less complex if instead of examining "home performance" we examine "home improvements". The accuracy of the savings and cost estimates are improved if they are calculated taking account of all improvements to be made rather than assuming that "all other things remain the same" and making an arbitrary adjustment to reduce the savings. But how can we predict the combination of improvements that the customers will choose? And how can we estimate savings that depend largely on customer behavior, such as lighting?

To answer the first question, the Home Tune-uP software, a nationwide on-sight energy analysis program available since 2003, offers each customer a group of improvements they can not refuse --- a group that will save more on their energy bill each year than the improvements will cost when financed. Thus instead of comparing the total cost of the improvements with the annual savings, the annual cost of the group is compared with the annual energy savings resulting  from  the improvements. The unique group that maximizes the energy savings for each home is calculated with a proprietary mathematical equation that compares all combinations of improvements.

As to the second question, where customer behavior dominates the estimated savings, as in lighting and setback thermostats, Home Tune-uP prefers to underestimate the savings in order to make sure that the savings will cover the costs. This is also true of the suggested low-cost no-cost improvements that are described in the report, but not included in the savings estimate.                  

To return to Al's original question, Home Tune-uP is a "reasonably easy to use, reasonably priced, reasonably accurate modeling software.

Thanks, Doris.  I'm glad to learn of another alternative for the independent auditor!

Doris

 

How customizable is the report? For example, can one add sections, logos, etc.... Are there aspects of the report that are locked? Does the home tune up logo show up? Will this report satisfy all BPI requirements? I noticed the sample report did not contain combustion analysis, why not?

I live next to Fort Washington. does this location sell, train, and support the software?

 

Thanks

Hi Robert,

My name is Steve Luxton and I work for CMC Energy Services and was part of the Home Tune-uP software development team in addition to training over 2,000 users nationwide since 2003 on it.

I appreciate the time you have taken to review the sample report and ask very good questions. My responses to your questions are listed below.

How customizable is the report?

The report is very customizable - logos can easily be added to the software in order for our users to brand their companies in the report - this would include the front page of the report and every page thereafter.

Are there aspects of the report that are locked?

There are sections of the report that are not modifiable, primarily general information sections that provide low cost and no cost opportunities in addition to implementation and contractor information.

Does the home tune up logo show up?

The Home Tune-uP logo does appear on the front page in a header format above where the digital picture of the home is located.

Will this report satisfy all BPI requirements?

In regard to your question on whether it satisfies BPI requirements, the software is being modified to accomodate the BPI Health and Safety testing information, which will include the spillage test results and measured CO levels. I have always made certain that when this information is presented to a homeowner, they are prefaced on what is satisfactory versus unsafe, lest we confuse or worse, scare the customer.

...does this location sell, train, and support the software?

We are also BPI Training Affiliates. I noticed you reside in Oreland, which as you know is very convenient to our location in Fort Washington. We provide technical support out of this location as well as training for BPI and Home Tune-uP classes. 

I would like to offer you a complete overview of Home Tune-uP at your convenience. This can be done over the telephone or in a webinar format, your choice.

 

Please feel free to contact me at 866.336.5262 extension1121. 

 

I use REM Design.

How did you learn how to use the REM Desing software??

What do you like/not like about it.

 

What about the standbys such as HAP or EQuest? And to what purpose will these energy models be used? If for rebate and specifically tax credit eligibility, the IRS publishes a list of those they will accept, at least for commercial projects. The principles are the same, though.

Doris brings up some excellent points. If I may expand upon them (or go off on a tangent from them), if the objective is to evaluate one improvement (all others being equal), one usually creates a copy of the base model, modifies it and compares the difference. Multiple ECM's, the model has even more utility. One could argue that any ECM can be evaluated on its own, assuming collateral effects are limited. (e.g. coupling a reduction in lighting and power Watt consumption might show an increase in heating costs, but insulation would tend to be self-evaluating).

As a practice, I make it a habit to go back to the energy model either before it is first presented or after a years worth of energy use, and tune it to the reality. In this way, the "theoretical vs. reality" contrast is evident. Lessens the GI/GO factor.

Al,

 

If you're in Maine, you really should familiarize yourself with Real Home Analyzer (RHA).  Efficiency Maine uses this tool developed by Conservation Services Group to deliver its Home Energy Savings program.  Contact Andy Meyer at 207-287-6466 or visit http://www.efficiencymaine.com/ for more info.  RHA is set up with prescriptive savings with a back office reporting process tied to efficiency maine.  Not the best tool if you're looking to work outside of utility dsm programs, but its required if you want to offer efficiency maine rebates.  

 

Treat is a good software choice.  For $150 a copy, its probably the most comprehensive tool for a starting weatherization company on a budget.  The benefit of the tool is that it provides guidance for weatherization improvements and provides a solid savings to investment ratio (SIR) that is very helpful in convincing customers to go forward with recommended weatherization improvements.  There are a few other interesting tools on the market like Recurve and eQuest, but be wary of tools that use prescriptive savings as the outcome may not be very accurate or believable to your customers.

 

Also, I would suggest checking out MABEP at http://www.efficiencypros.org/index.html.  The group has a training seminar in Portland Jan 19-20.  I'm sure that you will have a chance to learn more about software and to collaborate with other weatherization professionals.  

 

Good luck,

K.Freischlag

RHA is used in other open market programs in other states/regions as well (NY, NJ, TVA and others).

I'm being a little ignorant here, what about the software that the Minneapolis sells, or they don't ? What I see out here in Washington, is a lot of minneapolis blower doors with or/without software!

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