DOE Releases New Energy Savings Calculator

This time, it’s online and can be customized

DOE Releases New Energy Savings Calculator

Back in mid-2012, almost four years ago, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) released a number of state energy cost and savings reports for single family and multi-family homes.  Those sleek and colorful reports compared energy and cost savings between a new home and the equivalent home built to conform to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  The reports were used extensively across the country to show building officials, utilities, local governmental leaders and many others the benefits of replacing the 2006 IECC with either the 2009 IECC or 2012 IECC. 

DOE released the new online State Energy Code Savings Calculator in December, 2015. The tool is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet comparing the 2015 IECC to the 2012 IECC. DOE released this tool to help states with their cost-effectiveness evaluations for the 2015 IECC.  The tool uses the DOE cost savings methodology to allow states, municipalities, energy efficiency professionals and others to create state specific cost-effectiveness evaluations.  The tool allows for customized financial assumptions and other constraints that could vary on a state-by-state basis.

DOE’s goal is to help states understand the economic benefits at the state and local level when newer energy codes are adopted.  The agency provided two versions, one each for residential and commercial energy code advancements.  The State Savings Calculator allows the user to vary parameters of the calculation methodology to include items such as local energy prices and cost adjustments.  This allows the user to incorporate more specific metrics to support local code advancement.  Other parameters include inflation, taxes, and financial loan information. 

The calculator generates reports summarizing the findings from user input and presents it in a similar format as the official PNNL state analysis reports.

The calculators are available at the website. The residential energy code calculator is here, and the commercial energy code calculator is here.  The tools are fairly straightforward and require you to download the Excel spreadsheet in a Zip file.  Once launched, you can access the main page of the application and select your state from a dynamic U.S. map, pictured below.

The application has two modes, a simplified version with minimal inputs—the addition of local utility prices—and a detailed version which allows inputs for utilities, inflation, taxes, loan terms and loan related costs. 

The initial application includes data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).  This includes all utility cost information and utility escalation rates. The application defaults to a 30 year analysis for life-cycle costs, 30-year loan terms with 20% down payments, and a federal income tax rate of 35%.  All of this data can be customized by the user as states and cities look at the benefits and impacts of building energy codes for both high income and lower income families. 

This is a great tool that expands the energy efficiency professional’s toolbox and allows for a more detailed economic analysis for state and local governments.  It also provides users with the ability to calculate the cost-effectiveness of the 2015 IECC quickly and accurately using the DOE methodology—methodology backed by the scientists at PNNL. 

Jim Meyers is the Buildings Program Director at SWEEP. He is responsible for conducting analysis, preparing case studies, evaluating new and emerging technologies for buildings, and promoting the adoption of state-of-the-art building energy codes.