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.
The 21st century has ushered in a new era of measuring personal progress. With wearable technologies, we can now collect more personal data than we ever thought possible, from heart rate and step count to standing time and sleep quality. The ability to measure what we want to manage in real time has brought new meaning to the phrase “big data.” Improved tools for data collection and analysis have not been limited to health metrics. Technologies for collecting energy data in our homes and buildings have improved, producing more and better data than ever before.
This is a busy time of year in competitive sports. Top teams in the NBA (including our hometown Wizards) and NHL are competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy and Stanley Cup. American Pharaoh just won the Kentucky Derby last week, and Chelsea took the Premier League title. But don’t forget about another friendly competition—the one for most energy-efficient city in the 2015 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard! There are only five days to go until the results are released on Wednesday May 20.
Energy efficiency programs serving utility customers have grown rapidly over the past decade. While the rates of growth may have slowed in the last couple of years, most states have policies in place to achieve higher and higher energy savings from utility energy efficiency programs. In order to achieve high energy savings, program administrators can follow two key strategies: (1) get more customers to participate, and (2) get more savings from each participating customer.
I start thinking about my New Year’s resolution earlier than most. I like to think ahead and know what I’m getting into before committing. This year I could go to the gym more, eat fewer hamburgers, or do more traveling. OK, let’s start with just one thing. Maybe I’ll try to travel more. But how do I set the perfect goal for me? Where do I even start?
Thanks to my organization’s work on community energy planning, I know I can use the SMART goal-setting framework to wrap my head around my plans.
After work, to unwind, I like to turn on the TV. There is just something about watching people escape from zombies or write 1960s advertising slogans that takes my mind off my day’s work. After I’m all caught up on the soapy cable dramas, though, I get myself into trouble. That’s when I inevitably wind up on reality TV. When I watch a sea of fawning bachelors courting a lone bachelorette, or a young heiress making her way in the business world, it bothers me that these shows fail to truly portray reality. And then I start thinking about work again.
Energy service outsourcing is a business relationship that relieves a large facility from the potential distractions imposed by the ongoing management of one or more energy functions, such as steam, compressed air, water treatment, lighting, or other activities. In essence, a facility would transfer these functional duties to a vendor per a contractual agreement, subject to periodic renewal. The facilities that choose this route anticipate that their energy functions will be performed in a more reliable and cost-effective way by the vendor.
Champions within industrial facilities may be the largest piece missing from the energy policy and program landscape. Some energy program administrators are sponsoring the placement of dedicated energy managers at industrial facilities to overcome the obstacles to energy optimization. These pilot efforts seek to accelerate the pace and volume of industrial energy efficiency projects.
The economic benefits of energy efficiency extend far beyond lowering energy bills for consumers. Efficiency also contributes to economic development and job creation. But who benefits most from these economic opportunities? At every step of the economic value chain produced by efficiency investments (see figure below), there are opportunities to target the economic and social benefits to those households, businesses, geographies, or sectors for whom they will make the biggest difference.
This post is the third of three on sustaining local energy efficiency efforts. The first post described trends in local implementation of energy efficiency. The second was about the challenges and successes of local energy planning around the United States.