Dev Notes: Our Tech Stack

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When conducting an interview for the EnergySavvy engineering team, the question we hear most frequently is “Where’s your bathroom?” But the second-most-frequent question has got to be “What’s your stack?” We experiment with new tools, but we also keep a shared set of favorites—standbys that we’re familiar with. Below we’ve assembled a snapshot of the tools devs reach for most often to power EnergySavvy’s solutions.

Back-end

  • Python: All of our back-end software and services are written in Python. We’re currently making the transition from Python 2 to 3.

  • Flask: For building microservices, our preferred microframework is Flask. You could almost say it follows a “batteries not included” philosophy, which makes it particularly well-suited for simple services.

  • Django: For everything else, there’s Django. It follows more of a “batteries, and most everything else, included” philosophy.

  • Voluptuous: When not using Django’s built-in form validation, we use Voluptuous to validate data coming into Python as JSON, YAML, etc.

  • Tox: Whether running tests in dev or continuous integration, we want to create test environments in a reproducible manner. That’s where Tox comes in.

  • Mock: We write a lot of automated tests at EnergySavvy. That sometimes requires mocking things out. Fortunately the Python standard library provides Mock for just such a purpose.

  • SQLAlchemy Core: For cases where we need to talk to a relational database but aren’t using Django’s ORM, there’s SQLAlchemy.

  • PostgreSQL: We use Postgres for traditional relational persistence needs.

  • ElasticSearch: As a secondary data store for searching and filtering, ElasticSearch works great.

Front-end

  • Babel: We transpile our ES2015 JavaScript, the language formerly known as ES6.

  • React: All the cool kids are using React. We use it because it lets us very expressively create modern web UI in declarative, reusable ways.

  • Redux: We often need a little state management when doing React.

  • Jasmine: Some companies use Mocha. We find that Jasmine’s assertions are less magical.

  • webpack: At build time, we bundle up our JavaScript with webpack.

  • Sass: Billed as “CSS with superpowers”.

  • lodash: When needed. ES2015 provides a lot of nice functionality, which means that often, You Might Not Need lodash™.

Infrastructure and Tooling

  • Mercurial: Some say Mercurial is the Betamax of the distributed version control world. To that, we say: abort: push creates new remote heads! We actually like Mercurial’s command-line UI and branching model versus other options like git.

  • Review Board: You get very good at code reviews at EnergySavvy. Because there are a lot of them.

  • JIRA: Tickets, epics, sprints. General agile stuff.

  • Bamboo: This is where we do continuous integration and build deployable artifacts of our software for continuous delivery.

  • Ansible: We employ Ansible for both provisioning and deployment.

  • Ubuntu: Our servers run Ubuntu. Many of our devs run it locally as well, although many prefer Macs.

Hopefully that gives you a better picture of the stack we use at EnergySavvy. Note that our set of technologies does change and evolve over time. We try to keep our minds open to new components, evaluating each contender in light of our current needs. And we try to avoid adopting something just because it’s new or shiny. In fact, we have an informal process for evaluating and adopting new parts of our stack – a post for another time!

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

More rapid and accurate quantification of DSM

It’s been written about by ACEEE and NEEP, prioritized in California, and considered in states from New York to Minnesota, and Connecticut. Savings measurement software has emerged as a hot topic across the industry.

Quantify-infographic-300px-with-buttonThe Challenge

Utilities face a perennial challenge: the need for, and lack of, consistent feedback on customer program performance throughout the program year. What would change if program administrators and implementers could continuously see real world, at-the-meter savings resulting from programs? What insights would be found hiding within customer usage data?

At the heart of this discussion is a new class of savings measurement software tools, which provide data directly from the meter and give utility planners, implementers, and evaluators the control and transparency needed to maximize performance.

What it is

Savings measurement software combines modern, cloud-based software with energy use modeling to deliver data-driven insights on customers and programs. In short, it brings savings analysis into the modern era.

How it works

By aggregating results across a set of projects or premises, savings measurement software can identify energy savings amidst noisy usage data. Additionally, it compares groups of treated and untreated premises to detect biases and influences beyond the customer program. As new data becomes available – both from projects and meters (interval or monthly) – it is added into the system. The result is a rolling assessment of program savings, one that is continually refined as more information becomes available.

Use-cases for savings measurement software

1.  Targeted Marketing
Savings measurement software pinpoints measures and combinations of measures where results are higher or lower than the expected deemed savings. Using granular data about the program, utilities can target customers similar to the best performing customers or projects with the right offer.

2. Program OptimizationQuantify-laptop-with-person
Savings measurement software provides early insights into program performance allowing management to make mid-flight changes and optimize programs. As a result, program managers can focus on customer satisfaction, increased quality, and more cost-effective programs.

3. Contractor Performance and Feedback
It sheds light on which trade allies are achieving expected results, and which are over or under-performing. With this information, program staff can take corrective action, adjust training and onsite inspections, and improve results for customers.

For more, check out our savings measurement software infographic.

Meet Open Quantify Access: Measuring Energy Savings Should Be Easy

New, free tool allows contractors, homeowners and energy professionals to quickly and easily measure energy savings from a project.

The key to a good energy efficiency retrofit is a great contractor. Contractors are the lifeblood of energy efficiency programs. They are the face of the operation, the person that explains energy efficiency to homeowners. And most importantly, contractors are responsible for installing and repairing the equipment that take homes from being energy hogs to comfortable, affordable and efficient residences.

OQA-house-landing-page-400pxEfficiency contractors are experts in their field. They model savings, work closely with homeowners to design retrofits and deliver the benefits. But ask a contractor how much energy is saved from their projects and they will likely be baffled. That’s because measuring energy savings from residential retrofits is challenging. It requires compiling data from the meter, weather normalizing that data, and factoring in the equipment that was installed in the home. Contractors are running businesses, retrofitting homes, working with utilities to acquire leads, and explaining efficiency to customers – they don’t have time to crunch numbers to measure the savings from their projects. But home performance contractors want to know what impact they are having on their customers. They go through training, learn their trade and know that they do quality work. But they are rarely able to verify their performance with actual savings measurement.

Enter Open Quantify Access (OQA)

OQA is a free and open tool that allows contractors, homeowners and energy professionals to quickly and easily measure energy savings from a project. Users provide meter and project data; OQA does the rest. With OQA, contractors can finally measure and track project performance. With OQA, homeowners can finally measure savings from their residential retrofits. With OQA, energy savings measurement is demystified and easily accessible for program participants and stakeholders. OQA is based on technology from Optix Quantify, which aggregates savings from multiple projects and measures savings continuously. OQA provides measurement of gross savings from individual projects with weather normalization and follows existing industry protocols. EnergySavvy is preparing to launch OQA later this year. Sign up here to learn more and be the first to test drive this exciting free tool.

TEST-DRIVE-OQA

New Tool Takes the Pain out of HPXML Testing

EnergySavvy makes new program-specific HPXML Validator open, free, and available to any contractor, in-home auditor, and audit software provider.

bpi-certified-professionalIn June of 2013, the Building Performance Institute announced a new data standard to reduce the pain and frustration associated with data collection within the home performance industry. BPI-2100, also known as the Standard for Home Performance–Related Data Transfer, or HPXML, allows software used by contractors, auditors, and utilities to “talk” to one another. With HPXML, utilities and software vendors can choose best-in-class modeling and audit tools while lowering the cost of implementation.

EnergySavvy customers have already seen the benefits of deploying HPXML – contractor satisfaction skyrockets and the time required to complete projects drops dramatically.  However, adopting HPXML isn’t easy if you don’t have the right tools and team in place. Testing the standard can be time consuming for the modeling tool vendors and program staff, and lead to unhappy contractors if software compatibility is not guaranteed. Historically, HPXML testing has been done with generic text editors that are inefficient and non-program specific. While working with several utilities across the country like Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP) on their Home Performance with Energy Star programs, EnergySavvy recognized an opportunity for process improvement: a quick way to test HPXML compliance for individual programs.

TradeAllies_2This winter, EnergySavvy created the HPXML Validator – a standalone validation tool accessible through a simple URL. Using the tool, anyone can upload a file and quickly identify if it meets the unique HPXML requirements of a program; and if not, where the error lies. It goes beyond the recently announced NREL HPXML validator by validating the program-specific errors that can easily stand in the way of a successful software integration.

For utility personnel and the developers of in-home audit and modeling tools, the HPXML Validator serves as a source of truth by reflecting the most up-to-date information, straight from the program code. It eliminates confusion and functions as a go-to reference for all involved parties. Whether a new audit software provider would like to participate in a program, or a current one requires modifications to accommodate program changes, compliance testing becomes quick and easy.

Since its creation in October, the tool has already been put to good use. Adam Stenftenagel, Co-Founder and CEO of audit software company Snugg Home commented, “EnergySavvy’s new HPXML Validator is a huge time saver for us. It was previously really difficult to test our files and we often had to pass files back and forth to see if they worked for various programs. Now we can quickly test our files in any of the programs in both the production and development environments.”

 

Connect with our product team to access the HPXML Validator or learn more about tools that can improve contractor satisfaction while reducing data error rates.  

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EnergySavvy Named to Global Cleantech 100, Welcomes New Clients

EnergySavvy welcomes DTE Energy and Indiana Michigan Power to our growing list of utility clients and announces significant new deployments at Salt River Project, Columbia Gas of Ohio, and Tennessee Valley Authority.

4) 2015_GlobalCleantech100_eBadge_Top100_071415EnergySavvy is honored to be named to the 2015 Global Cleantech 100, produced by Cleantech Group. The Global Cleantech 100 represents the most innovative and promising ideas in cleantech. Featuring companies that are best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges, Global Cleantech 100 is a comprehensive list of private companies with the highest potential to make the most significant market impact.

This year, a record number of nominations were received: 6,900 distinct companies from 60 countries. These companies were weighted and scored to create a short list of 323 companies. Short-listed nominees were reviewed by Cleantech Group’s Expert Panel, resulting in a finalized list of 100 companies from 17 countries.

“We’re honored to be recognized among a stellar group of companies from around the world,” said Aaron Goldfeder, CEO of EnergySavvy. “And we’re even more excited to announce new and deeper relationships with some of the nation’s biggest and most respected utilities. We’re honored to work with these clients who have chosen our solutions to drive broad customer engagement across their many value-added programs.”

Last year, EnergySavvy expanded its customer engagement solution, Optix Engage, to include small and midsize business, as well as direct mail and mobile solutions to reach the entire utility customer base. The entire solution drives the highest completion rates in the industry and is designed to compel action – namely, driving program participation and higher customer satisfaction.

EnergySavvy welcomes DTE Energy and Indiana Michigan Power, a division of AEP, to the company’s more than 30 utility clients. DTE Energy is launching Optix Engage Residential, EnergySavvy’s consumer-focused online engagement solution. At DTE, the solution is a core component of a customer engagement initiative lead by Walker-Miller Energy Services.

Indiana Michigan Power chose Engage for Business, an online engagement solution for its small-to-midsize businesses in Michigan. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our business customers to participate in energy and money-saving programs,” said Jon Walter, Regulatory Analysis and Case Manager at Indiana Michigan Power. “EnergySavvy’s solution will provide a fast and effective way for our customers to make a positive impact on their business.”

EnergySavvy is pleased to announce that Salt River Project expands its use of Optix Engage to include Engage Direct, an easy-to-use direct-mail energy assessment that enables engagement with customers who don’t interact with their utility online. EnergySavvy also announces that Columbia Gas of Ohio and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), have selected Optix Manage to automate and enhance their income-eligible offerings.

As part of TVA’s Smart Communities Extreme Energy Makeovers initiative, 4-County Electric Power Association also chose Optix Quantify, EnergySavvy’s savings measurement software, to bolster its customer engagement and education through continuous data analytics. “The goals of the program are an electric energy usage reduction target of 25% per home, with an implementation cost of approximately $10.00 per square foot and an annual savings of 1,000 Megawatt-hours,” said Jon Turner, Manager of Marketing for 4-County Electric Power Association. “We selected ICF International along with EnergySavvy to streamline our operations while ensuring the best experience for all customers.”