RHC Project Development Tools
Factors to Consider
If you are considering a renewable heating or cooling system for your home, business, or organization, you should keep a variety of questions and factors in mind:
- What are your heating/cooling needs?
- Which technologies can provide you the necessary heating/cooling energy?
- How do renewable heating and cooling options compare with conventional technologies?
- What renewable resources are cost-effective in your part of the country?
- What renewable heating and cooling products should you choose?
- Who will install your system?
- How will you finance the system?
Applications and Technologies
- Learn more about common renewable heating and cooling (RHC) end-use applications, including:
- Evaluate which renewable resources and technologies can meet your heating and cooling needs, including:
Calculators and System Design Tools
- RETScreen Exitis a software program, developed by the Canadian government, to help decision-makers quickly determine the technical and financial viability of potential renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cogeneration projects, including renewable heating and cooling technologies such as solar, geothermal, or biomass.
- Hearth.com Exitis a comprehensive industry website that offers consumers several calculators to help estimate the amount of heat you need for a room, compare fuel costs between renewable and conventional sources, calculate the cost of heat with different wood resources, estimate wood stove burn times, estimate water storage needs for wood-based central heating systems, and more.
- The Renewable Energy Optimization Tool (REopt) is an early screening tool designed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to identify and prioritize renewable energy projects at a single site, or across a portfolio of sites in multiple cities, states, or countries, each with its own energy requirements, resources, goals, and constraints. REopt combines site, resource, cost, incentive, and financial data to evaluate solar hot water, solar ventilation preheating, and biomass projects.
- Renewable resource maps were developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to show biomass availability, geothermal resources, and solar energy potential across the United States.
- The BioPower Atlas is a product of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that identifies locations where biomass feedstocks can be used for power production.
- The ENERGY STAR Program promotes energy-efficient products by identifying the best-performing products through independent third-party testing and certification. ENERGY STAR evaluates both solar water heaters and geothermal heat pumps.
- The Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) Exit is a non-profit organization that provides performance ratings, certifications, and standards for solar thermal products. SRCC certifies a variety of solar thermal products Exit that serve water and space heating applications.
- International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) Exit is a non-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developer and product certification body which rates and certifies solar heating collectors and systems for all end-use applications.
- EPA’s BurnWise Program is a partnership program that emphasizes the importance of burning the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliance to protect your home, health, and the air we breathe. Consumers can select wood stove products that are either EPA-certified or EPA-qualified.
Project Developers and Integrators
EPA recommends that consumers seek credentialed and properly trained professionals when developing renewable heating and cooling projects. Below are organizations that independently certify industry professionals who work with several renewable heating and cooling technologies:
- Solar professionals: The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Exit certifies solar heating installation professionals to raise industry standards and promote consumer confidence.
- Geothermal professionals: The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Exit is a non-profit organization that administers a professional accreditation program for heat pump designers, installers, and drillers.
- The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) Exit is a federally supported database with information on state, local, federal, and utility incentives and policies for renewable energy and efficiency.
- The Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST) is an economic cash flow model designed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to assess project economics. CREST is a suite of four analytic tools, with applications for solar thermal systems.
- Solar Heating and Cooling: Contractual Best Practices for Third-Party Financed Commercial- and Industrial-Scale Projects (2012) is an EPA white paper that seeks to identify and build consensus around best practices for third-party financed solar heating and cooling contracts.
- The Role of Energy Performance Contracting in Deployment of Nonresidential Solar Water Heating Systems (2013) is an EPA white paper that investigates the use of energy performance contracts to deploy solar water heating systems into nonresidential markets and how the terms of those agreements might be affected by the inclusion of solar water heating.
- EPA’s Financial Incentives for RHC page links to several sources of information about tax credits and deductions, loans, grants, and other incentives for renewable heating and cooling systems.
- EPA’s Financing an RHC Project page includes information about a variety of mechanisms for financing renewable heating and cooling projects and methods for addressing common financing barriers, such as defraying the up-front cost of a system.
Resources for Policymakers
- Solar Heating and Cooling: Best Practices in State Policies to Support Commercial and Industrial Market Development (2012) is a white paper developed by EPA that reviews current policies and implementation programs that support commercial and industrial applications of solar heating and cooling technologies.
- Solar Thermal Energy for Industrial Uses (2011) (PDF) (12 pp, 1.1MB, About PDF) Exit is an issue brief published by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute that summarizes the potential for solar thermal process heat and offers successful case studies from several sectors.
- Policymakers’ Guidebook for Geothermal Heating and Cooling (2011) is a National Renewable Energy Laboratory publication that describes five steps for implementing policies that may reduce barriers and facilitate the deployment and implementation of geothermal heating and cooling technologies such as ground source heat pumps and direct-use applications.
- Policies for Renewable Heat: An Integrated Approach (2012) (PDF) (50 pp, 1.9 MB) Exit is a paper developed by the International Energy Agency that provides guidance to policymakers on how to stimulate the renewable energy market. The paper discusses how an integrated policy approach applies to renewable heat, and it guides policymakers throughout the different phases of the policy lifecycle.
- The Missing Piece of Climate Policy: Renewable Heating and Cooling in Germany and U.S. (2008) (PDF) (65 pp, 2.1 MB) Exit is a paper published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation that identifies the often neglected renewable heating and cooling sector and its great potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy use.
- Renewables for Heating and Cooling: Untapped Potential (2007) (PDF) (210 pp, 1.8 MB) Exit is a paper developed by the International Energy Agency that examines the technologies, current markets, and relative costs for heat and cold production using biomass, geothermal, and solar-assisted systems. It evaluates a range of national case studies and relevant policies.
- Roadmap for Process Heating Technology (2001) (PDF) (54 pp, 578K) is a document developed by the U.S. Department of Energy that details top research and development goals, key barriers, and potential benefits to drive significant industry-wide cost savings and performance efficiencies through process heating technologies.
- Renewable Energy Ready Homes are specifications developed by the ENERGY STAR program to assist builders in designing and constructing homes equipped with features that make the installation of solar energy systems after the completion of the home’s construction easier and less expensive.