January 2006

FSEC Unveils New Energy Gauge Software to Help with Tax
Credit Compliance

Thanks to new software developed at FSEC, homebuilders around the country will be able to easily and accurately take advantage of the new federal tax credit of $2,000 for homes that reduce energy use for heating and cooling by 50 percent as compared to the national model code.

The building community is excited about the new credits contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that went into effect on January 1, providing financial incentives for new homes that are energy efficient. An important component of the credits, however, is that eligible homes must demonstrate savings using software that has been approved by the IRS in accordance with RESNET Publication 05-001, and builders must demonstrate compliance by the use of third-party inspectors certified according to
IRS rules.

Rob Vieira, director of FSEC’s Buildings Research Division, explained that standards similar to those specified in the new language already exist in Florida and elsewhere as part of Florida's Building Energy Rating System.

Philip Fairy and Brian Hanson looking at EnergyGauge software on laptop computer

Brian Hanson, Software Engineer (left), and Philip Fairey, FSEC Deputy Director, review EnergyGauge software.
(Photo: Nick Waters )

Following the announcement of the tax credits in August, Vieira put together a team of researchers in his division to work with FSEC deputy director Philip Fairey in creating a new version of FSEC’s EnergyGauge USA software to help homebuilders qualify for the new credit and to help quantify energy savings for new homes. Fairey and Brian Hanson led the effort to develop the new software, scheduled to be released today, that uses the 2006 HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Reference Home standards and the 2006 NAECA (National Appliance Energy Conservation Act) minimum hot water, air conditioner and heat pump standards to perform the tax credit calculations based on home heating and air conditioning energy use.

Builders, tax analysts and others involved in working with the credits will find the software useful in complying with the requirements and calculating energy savings. The EnergyGauge software developed by FSEC allows detailed performance-based analysis of building energy use and performs economic analysis of proposed energy improvements. Versions include two for Florida use – FlaRes for residential buildings and FlaCom for commercial, and a program applicable nationwide (EnergyGauge USA). To use the software to meet the requirements of the new tax credits, Florida builders will need both FlaRes and EnergyGauge USA, and special pricing has been developed for both products. Builders outside of Florida only need the new EnergyGauge USA version 2.5.1.

screen capture of Photovoltaic System Performance Summary

A sample page from the new EnergyGauge software.

“This new software is a major step forward in our EnergyGauge series,” Vieira noted. “The new tax credits – the first time such federal credits have been available to builders – are a huge opportunity for homebuilders around the country to take the next step forward in increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. We’re very happy that the EnergyGauge program can assist them in making energy efficiency more affordable for home owners everywhere.”

One other feature of FSEC’s EnergyGauge USA software makes it especially popular with builders. “Our software,” Vieira added, “is unique because it includes detailed analysis of building-integrated photovoltaic systems as well as detailed modeling of solar water heating systems. It’s comprehensive, easy to use, and builders around the country have reported their satisfaction with the program. We know it is a useful tool, and this new version takes it even a step further than it’s been before.”

For full information on the new software, visit http://energygauge.com/. Pricing for EnergyGauge USA software begins at $149.

©2006 Florida Solar Energy Center/University of Central Florida
All rights reserved. • www.fsec.ucf.edu