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Tools for analysis (cont.)
Useful tools and websites for energy assesments

If you are working on energy assessments of buildings, there are a variety of things that you need to find to fill in missing information. As usual that information is available in various places on the internet, but we are going to try to assemble them here as we come across useful bits of information.

DegreeDays.net There are a lot of times when you need to know the local degree days in order to balance out the information supplied by your clients energy bills and what actually happened in the past year. The data from the standard references like Krigger & Dorsi's Residential Energy or ASHRAE's Handbook of Fundamentals, is a 30 year average for a major location like Boston or Denver or San Francisco. But the heating degree days on the north side of Long Island were 500 higher than the south side in 2009! That's tough to justify with a 30 year average bill. And with these very hot summers and exceptional winters, knowing the most recent information can be very useful. DegreeDays.net is a free site where you can get customized weather information. Couldn't be better than that!

Google SketchUp.com If you haven't used SketchUp for your assessment work, you're missing a great opportunity. SketchUp is remarkably easy to use and quick to learn the basics. You can go way beyond the basics if you are so inclined. But you can take the measurements of a building in the field, build the model on SketchUp, and let it give you all external surface areas, attic areas, floor over basement areas, simply by giving them different colors. You can also transfer a real image of the building and build your model over it. And it is also FREE!

AHRI Directory Then there is the issue of the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) and Standby Efficiency (SE) of appliances. Where can you get that information? Well it isn't perfect, but the AHRI directory is a good place to start. (It's also free.) This used to be the GAMA directory. If you want (or need) to go deeper, you going need to go to Preston's Guide.

Guide to Refrigerator and Freezer Energy Use Sometimes you can't move the refrigerator or freezer to get an energy monitor like the "Kill-a-watt" attached to it and you can't get the information you need from the AHRI directory. Check out this page from Kouba-Cavallo. It has some great information and is a really useful source.

Energy Audit Software
This question comes up all the time, and I still haven't got it resolved. I've tried a bunch of this stuff, but I haven't settled on a package that I can keep on my computer that will produce readable and understandable energy audits for homeowners that have action plans behind them. This page is one of the best assemblies of resources I have seen, however. It's a good place to start.
Here is another good software resource website: Lawrence Berkley Laboratories (LBNL)

Water Use
Fresh water is a huge issue. Einstein thought it would be more of an issue than energy a long time ago. This process through National Geographic is an interesting way to assess the fresh water use in a home. It's an eye opener.

A sling psychrometer is used to measure psychrometric relationships. Comfort is a combination of temperature and humidity and dew point. A sling psychrometer will provide a wet bulb temperature or how quickly moisture will evaporate and relate it to the dew point. When the dew point is high, it feels muggy. A sling psychrometer is used to design and set up HVAC equipment.

(Residential Energy Services Network) and BPI (Building Performance Institute) are the two key organizations for rating homes and training auditors.

There is a very useful website called Residential Energy Dynamics that has all sort of cool tools including a nugget for calculating the 'R' value of a wall using an infrared thermometer. It is well known for its ASHRAE 62.2 calculation tools, making that whole process exceptionally simple. Check it out. RED .

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is a non-profit organization that verifies the quality and longevity of training programs. IREC sends out what you might think of as "super students", assessors, who evaluate the programs, making sure that they meet their own goals and the goals of the industry, their financial well being, management structure, and everything you should know before you invest a lot of money in a course. Look for the IREC accreditation in any course you pursue in this industry.