The home energy rating software, EnergyGauge, is Florida’s flagship energy rating software. EnergyGauge is used to improve energy-efficient building design, as well as to project future code improvements or programs that go beyond codes, such as zero-energy homes and buildings.
During the early 1990s, Windows operating systems began to become prominent in the PC market. All manner of PC software was being rewritten for Windows. The state of Florida’s building codes office needed to have its energy code software converted to Windows, however, the original DOS programmers did not want the job. The state of Florida contracted the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) to write Windows-based software for the Florida building energy code. In addition, the state contracted UCF’s FSEC to create the EnergyGauge software with some initial funding. The State granted the Intellectual Property to UCF so the software could be updated over time via software charges.
EnergyGauge Software Products
EnergyGauge software has two products, one for residential building analysis, and one for commercial building analysis. Over the years, there have been six major versions of each of the Windows-based programs. Numerous minor updates included new features and keep up with both Florida and national building energy code and rating systems program provisions.
Home Energy Rating System Background
In 1994, the Florida Legislature created Florida’s home and commercial building energy rating system. UCF’s FSEC was ready to answer this legislative call. UCF’s FSEC helped the State determine the appropriate calculation procedures. The State contracted UCF’s FSEC to produce the implementation software. UCF’s FSEC also provided its continuing education expertise to train residential and commercial building energy raters for Florida.
UCF’s FSEC faculty also worked with other state energy offices, non-profits and entrepreneurs to create the national standards for energy rating systems. As a result of this collaborative effort by UCF’s FSEC, Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) became a driving force in the national debate on Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS). And with the assistance of UCF’s FSEC, RESNET and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) promulgated the first national HERS standards in 1999. Again, with the assistance of UCF’s FSEC, RESNET went on to promulgate ANSI-accredited national HERS Standards in 2014. In 2017, there were more than 217,000 homes rated nationwide using the HERS methodology. Most of these ratings were for new homes.
UCF’s FSEC faculty involvement in creating performance-based calculations did not go unnoticed and soon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy were funding UCF’s FSEC. In 1995, EPA selected UCF’s FSEC to help launch its ENERGY STAR® Homes program. EPA contracted UCF’s FSEC to help create the initial compliance criteria. Builders in Gainesville, FL and Melbourne, FL were very early adopters. The ENERGY STAR® homes program is now EPA’s premier voluntary above-code homes program. It has more than 1.9 million homes certified by over 28,400 builders since its inception. Homes certified in 2017 alone save the equivalent of 109,000,000 kWh per year, or more than $21,000,000 on total utility bills per year.
The U.S. Department of Energy has funded UCF’s FSEC more than $26 million for research in the Department of Energy’s Building America program since 1999. Under this program, the Energy Department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory created a benchmark home that researchers used to measure progress. UCF’s FSEC programmed the Building America benchmark home into EnergyGauge software; Six Building America research teams across the nation used EnergyGauge for analysis. The Energy Department also funded EnergyGauge feature enhancements for solar hot water systems and photovoltaic systems. EnergyGauge continues to be used for funded research purposes. Through contracts, UCF’s FSEC conducts EnergyGauge analysis for RESNET, private manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the state of Florida energy codes office.
The continued maintenance of EnergyGauge has allowed it to be viable for research. In addition, it serves Floridians and others conducting performance-based energy code compliance and energy ratings. Through multiple funding sources, UCF’s FSEC maintains an affordable software.
Energy Rater Training
UCF’s FSEC is a RESNET-accredited Training Provider. Students have acclaimed UCF’s FSEC rater training for years. Consistent with ANSI/RESNET/ICC Standards, EnergyGauge HERS Ratings are registered with RESNET; UCF’s FSEC archives the ratings for retrieval and quality assurance purposes. UCF’s FSEC staff field inspect one percent of homes and provide continuing education to certified raters on a continuing basis.
Building owners in the state of Florida have seen building energy efficiency improvements for nearly 40 years, through the research, products and services of UCF’s FSEC. Thanks to UCF’s FSEC staff and EnergyGauge software, improvements to building codes and standards save Floridians more than $100 million annually in energy costs.
[Last updated: 11/11/2019]