Conceptual hydrological models are preferable for real-time flood forecasting, among which the Xin'anjiang (XAJ) model has been widely applied in humid and semi-humid regions of China. Although the relatively simple mass balance scheme ensures a good performance of runoff simulation during flood events, the model still has some defects. Previous studies have confirmed the importance of evapotranspiration (ET) and soil moisture content (SMC) in runoff simulation. In order to add more constraints to the original XAJ model, an energy balance scheme suitable for the XAJ model was developed and coupled with the original mass balance scheme of the XAJ model. The detailed parameterizations of the improved model, XAJ-EB, are presented in the first part of this paper. XAJ-EB employs various meteorological forcing and remote sensing data as input, simulating ET and runoff yield using a more physically based mass–energy balance scheme. In particular, the energy balance is solved by determining the representative equilibrium temperature (RET), which is comparable to land surface temperature (LST). The XAJ-EB was evaluated in the Lushui catchment situated in the middle reach of the Yangtze River basin for the period between 2004 and 2007. Validation using ground-measured runoff data proves that the XAJ-EB is capable of reproducing runoff comparable to the original XAJ model. Additionally, RET simulated by XAJ-EB agreed well with moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS)-retrieved LST, which further confirms that the model is able to simulate the mass–energy balance since LST reflects the interactions among various processes. The validation results prove that the XAJ-EB model has superior performance compared with the XAJ model and also extends its applicability.