US homes can lower their energy use by up to one-sixth simply by incorporating smart technologies, according to our new report, Energy Impacts of Smart Home Technologies. In addition, these technologies — a combination of software, sensors, and hardware that monitor and control a home’s interior environment — allow homes to shift some of their energy use to times when energy demand and pricing are lowest. This pairing of energy savings and peak demand reduction is a win-win scenario for consumers and utilities alike.
It’s not just about money. People invest in home energy upgrades for a variety of reasons, including reconstruction after heavy storms. Our new report explores their motivations and unveils, based partly on a representative survey of nearly 2,000 homeowners, the best strategies for encouraging them to invest in energy efficiency.
The United States is seeing a promising upward trend in ultra-low energy (ULE) buildings. While much of this progress has occurred with new construction, it is beginning to spread to existing buildings. Over the past decade, a small but growing number of ULE building retrofit projects have been documented in more than 20 states.
Ever wonder what a building thinks about its climate or the occupants it serves? Or, conversely, how the occupants perceive their building? Buildings are becoming increasingly smart; they are becoming more aware of their environment and responsive to our needs. In our new report, we discuss how smart buildings respond to, and even anticipate, changes in operation to meet energy demand and occupant expectations. Our research focuses on existing US commercial buildings of different sizes and types.
Our existing housing stock is an underutilized energy efficiency resource. We’ve only scratched the surface of its potential to save energy. Decades of research and thousands of retrofits show that even the most basic home retrofits can cut energy use by 15-20% while more comprehensive retrofit projects can double or even triple the energy savings. Residents benefit not only from lower energy bills, but also from improved comfort, better health, and safer, more durable homes. Despite the widely-documented benefits of whole home retrofits, demand for retrofits lags.
Many people groan when they see their utility bill spike after a cold February, but for some it is more than just an annoyance. Imagine if you had to under-heat your home during that cold February because you knew you wouldn’t be able to afford the utility bill. Imagine if you didn’t realize how much it would cost to heat your home to a comfortable temperature, and are now stuck with a bill larger than you can afford.
This summer was a scorcher. Heat waves repeatedly struck the Midwest and South, sparing only sections of the Northeast. All of California is still in a drought. Cities were especially hot due to their concentration of buildings and human activity, a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect. At times, it may have felt impossible to beat the heat.
Study Recommends Nine Strategies for Designing Successful Programs