AKWarm Modernization and Improvements

Project Page

CCHRC contracted with Arctic Energy Systems to develop computer software that calculates the design heating load of a home, so that the home's heating system is properly sized. The software presents the results in a report. The software is operated via the user's Internet web browser and is freely accessible to all users across the Internet. The research was funded with a grant from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

CCHRC has reviewed the AKWarm software that is used during planning to determine a house’s energy usage. We will be reviewing additional features as needed and will include necessary modifications to rewrite BEES.

In 1996, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) developed software to aid energy raters and mortgage loan officers in determining the energy efficiency of a home, including the heating and air handling systems, building envelope and foundation. In 2008, AHFC contracted with CCHRC to evaluate and update the software to better reflect today’s building standards, advances in technology and mortgage loan requirements. AKWarm is also used to establish a home’s energy rating in preparation for rebates from the AHFC Home Energy Rebate Program. AKWarm was originally written by Analysis North who is CCHRC's primary contractor on this project.

AHFC staff have collected hundreds of suggestions for improving AKWarm. This project will implement as many such improvements as can be afforded. Priority is being given to the most urgently needed changes, as determined by certified Energy Raters and other AKWarm users.

Phase One

The first three major stages of AKWarm Modernization since CCHRC began the project are complete:

  1. Available energy rating software was analyzed and in January 2008, the Energy Rating Program Evaluation was issued which helped AHFC determine that modernizing AKWarm was in Alaska’s best interest;
  2. The “AKWarm Reporter” was created to transform the AKWarm results into a document tailored to home owners’ needs; and
  3. AKWarm was rewritten using modern software engineering methods and tools so that future maintenance and the addition of new features will be efficient and affordable. The rewritten version, known as AKWarm 2, was released for general use on March 19, 2009. This marked the end of Phase One of this project.

Phase Two

Phase Two is on-going and will add significant new functionality to AKWarm with a new release approximately every six months. AKWarm version 2.0.5 was released on September 23, 2009. Version 2.0.6 enabled AKWarm users to once again meet homebuilder tax credit compliance requirements. Details about what is new in each AKWarm release can be found in the AKWarm 2.0 Change Log.

AKWarm Commercial Building Analysis

AKWarm was developed to analyze and rate the energy efficiency of residential buildings in Alaska.  It is particularly strong at assessing building envelope,heat-loss issues, and heating systems. CCHRC and AHFC recently identified key features that need to be added in order for AKWarm to become a valuable tool for light commercial building energy audits. Under this project CCHRC will expand AKWarm’s capability by enhancing its ability to address:

  • Commercial envelope construction techniques and materials
  • Electrical loads
  • Commercial HVAC

Projects

AkWarm Updates CCHRC is updating AkWarm, the software used to rate the energy efficiency of Alaska homes, to account for renewable energy, heat loss characteristics, and regional variations in climate and energy.
HERS Software Development CCHRC is researching and developing guidelines for AHFC staff to use when reviewing software for compliance with the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) standard.
Rebate & Weatherization Program Evaluation Audit Process This project evaluated AHFC's weatherization and rebate programs to determine outcomes and recommend improvements.
PM 2.5 Reduction Policy CCHRC developed a model to estimate PM2.5 emissions from residential heating sources in Fairbanks and evaluated a variety of policy options aimed at reducing emissions, finding that these efforts could cut emissions in half.
4-5 Star Plus Energy Rated Homes Survey & Analysis Ivan Moore Research (IMR) of Anchorage conducted a customer survey of Four Plus and Five-Star Plus homes to determine customer satisfaction and understanding of building components.