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A building is a real ecosystem of its own if you consider all energy flows going around. You need to keep it warm during winter and keep it cool during summer; you need to illuminate it, ventilate it, and so on. The challenge is clear: you need to provide all those services in the most efficient way and at the minimum cost. EnergyPlus - developed by the US Department of Energy - is an application designed to create simulations of buildings and all the energy flows inside of them, so that you can design them in the best way to accomplish your goals.
Since EnergyPlus is focused on the simulation engine and not on the interface and accessory tools. The application “speaks” the .txt language, meaning that it receives data from text files and produces results and reports as text files as well. If you are counting on a user-friendly interface, you can wait for a while until one of the on-going interface development projects finishes. There are also some extra tools you can use in combination with EnergyPlus - these projects come from the private sector so you may expect to have to pay a license for them. Speaking of licensing, EnergyPlus offers different types of licenses depending on the use it is going to be given. There are commercial licenses and non-commercial licenses. In turn, within the commercial licenses you will find end-user license (free of charge) and distribution license (you need to pay for the license).
EnergyPlus package includes the following two tools: IDF Editor and EP-Lauch, which you can use for creating, editing, and running input files. EnergyPlus Example File Generator is another tool which is under testing. It is a web-based application to help you in creating input files for EnergyPlus (remember, they are .txt files) for small and simple buildings; the files, once created, are sent to you by e-mail.
- You can use it for free with the end user non-commercial license
- You can choose from many third-party interfaces to use with EnergyPlus
- You need to register and wait for a password in order to download and install the application
- It lacks a "user-friendly" interface