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Recurve app speeds home energy efficiency audits

Recurve is creating a suite of software for the home weatherization industry, which is poised for rapid growth with growing homeowner and government interest.

Recurve, which provides home energy-efficiency services, has been leading the double life as a software company.

The San-Francisco-based company on Monday announced Recurve Software, an application aimed at home energy-efficiency contractors. The first module of a planned suite, the program lets professionals generate a home-efficiency report with recommendations and a proposal for work, such as air sealing and insulation.

The Recurve software, which runs on a tablet PC, is designed to speed up the process of generating a home efficiency audit report and sales proposal. Recurve

Recurve hopes the hosted application will automate some of the tasks for home performance contractors, many of which can be small shops, said Adam Winter, the senior vice president of building science. The application runs on tablet PCs, which can run Flash and Java, with most of the input done with a stylus, he said.

Longer term, the company plans to add more modules, such as project management, to the energy audit application, creating essentially an enterprise resource management for the home performance industry. The software will help scale the entire industry, which is typically localized and fragmented, Winter said.

"Our goal is to enable our competitors--one hundred percent," he said. "We see a massive influx of awareness (among consumers) and contractors coming to market. Our operations are more research and development and a proving ground."

The first module has been beta tested with six contractors in different regions in the U.S. On Monday, Recurve will open it up to more contractors and release the final version later this year.

Efficiency or weatherization professionals perform an audit in people's home, using a blower door test and inspection of the entire building and then give recommendations on how to cut energy. There are utility-sponsored services, which can give homeowners more efficient lighting and recommend more insulation. More comprehensive jobs including plugging air leaks in ducts and walls to installation of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.

The Recurve software can figure in rebates and incentives as part of the recommendation and sales proposal. But federal incentives are poised to give the overall industry a jolt, as early as later this year, with the Home Star program, sometimes referred to as cash for caulkers. That system will provide home owners tax credits of a few thousand dollars for making investments in home efficiency, such as buying more efficient appliances or contracting work.

There is even some concern that there aren't enough skilled people to meet the demand if that program is passed into law. "There are a lot of mom-and-pop shops that can be successful in home performance because the owner is also running the retrofit themselves but that makes it hard for (the industry) to scale," Winter said.