Home Performance is Not Just About Energy
From the PECI Blog
by Emily Kemper, AIA, MBS, Technical Manager - Building Science | April, 30 2014 - See more...
Greetings from Detroit, where my colleague Dain Nestel and I are attending the 2014 Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI) National Home Performance Conference. We’re joining hundreds of other conference attendees in discussing important issues affecting the performance and efficiency of homes. One of the big issues this year is the smart grid, and how advances in energy tracking and data analysis could improve our ability to offer energy efficiency upgrades to existing homes. Consider this: with the energy consumption data observed at daily, hourly or even minute intervals, we could have much greater insight into how any given home uses energy, giving us the ability to detect faults in equipment, find and replace inefficient equipment, or determine which of our behaviors are costing us the most energy.
PECI strongly believes in the potential of smart grid technologies, devices and software to yield these insights and ultimately to facilitate more cost-effective energy efficiency and demand response programs. In houses, this technology is commonly referred to with the umbrella term, home energy management systems, or HEMS. HEMS are also defined as any hardware or software device or system that can monitor and/or manage a home’s energy consumption and provide feedback to a homeowner or utility about that consumption. HEMS devices and ecosystems are starting to take off in the consumer market, showing up in connected home products like smart thermostats, Wifi-enabled appliances, and outlet level plug-load controls.
For this reason, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) recently launched a HEMS Working Group, of which PECI is proud to be a member. In collaboration with the NEEP HEMS Working Group, the National Home Performance Council (NHPC), ACI’s partner in the Home Performance Coalition (HPC), deemed this an important enough subject area that it held a workshop on the first full day of the ACI conference entitled, “Making the Match: Home Performance and Energy Management.” Dain and I attended this workshop and I’ve summarized some of the important takeaways here.
Notes from HEMS Working Group
David Terry from the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) started us off by discussing the ability of the states to empower HEMS and smart grid programs. Among his primary points, he stressed the need for a state to qualify its policy needs, drive investment in HEMS and smart grid, and leverage existing finance programs to enable participation by homeowners. Shane Fay of Simple Energy discussed both the challenges and motivations of consumers, stressing that energy illiteracy is a major challenge while customer expectations continue to grow. Gavin Hastings of Arizona Public Service (APS) and John Schott of NYSERDA discussed the potential of HEMS in both of their successful home performance programs, and how connected home systems could support the growth of their trade allies’ businesses.
Representatives from NREL were also present to announce an exciting new lab called the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), where they will have the ability to evaluate end-to-end energy ecosystems. This “user facility,” where any person or entity is welcome to visit and use the lab, includes a Smart Power Lab where all manner of home energy systems and interoperability can be tested. Finally, Kara Saul-Rinaldi, Executive Director of NHPC and co-facilitator of the workshop, announced the publication of a white paper entitled, “Making Sense of the Smart Home,” produced by NHPC in collaboration with the Department of Energy, the Energy Foundation and NYSERDA. This notable paper provides five recommendations for next steps in developing HEMS-enabled programs that support the growth of whole-house upgrades, home performance businesses and energy efficiency programs alike.
PECI has been tracking the growth of the smart grid and HEMS products for several years, particularly with respect to how they may affect our residential programs. HEMS platforms are an exciting technology that have the potential to not only help homeowners save energy, but also likely improve health, safety, security, and even water efficiency through advanced monitoring and wireless control technology. This is especially true in home performance programs, where millions of existing homes could benefit from whole house upgrades that address multiple building science issues, from ventilation to waste heat from vampire plug loads. PECI is committed to advancing the industry’s knowledge in collaboration with NEEP, NHPC, and multiple other stakeholders in the HEMS Working Group, and I look forward to discussing HEMS more on this blog in future posts!
Review National Home Performance Council's white paper, “Making Sense of the Smart Home."
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