The Future of Energy Efficiency
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- Apr 8, 2020 9:27 pm GMT
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Energy efficiency is critical for the benefit of utilities, end energy users, and the environment. It will continue to be, even as many components of energy delivery change, including greater use of renewable energy sources, and demand response (DR) efforts.
However, some of the methods for achieving energy efficiency may change. As technology continues to progress, smart systems will play a greater role. Buildings will be constructed for great efficiency. And customers will contribute more actively to energy efficiency efforts.
The future of energy efficiency relies on the ability of smart systems to make adjustments based on changing conditions. For example, rather than simply having two options, “on” or “off” as some HVAC systems do, a smarter version can gather information about temperature preferences, monitor current conditions, and increase or decrease accordingly. Additionally, multiple units can be connected to balance comfort with cost across buildings.
Net-Zero Building Standards
According to Scientific American, “Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s energy is consumed by homes and commercial buildings.” Of course, incorporating energy efficiency measures into new construction is useful but, “Why construct a building that uses less energy when we can make one that uses no energy at all?” That’s the idea behind Net-Zero building standards that have been appearing in recent years. The idea is that the building itself produces all the energy it needs.
The federal government has started promoting Zero Energy Ready homes, which have been built for energy efficiency. The Department of Energy touts the benefits, including the cost savings over the life of ownership of the home and the comfort resulting from thermal protection, advanced heating and cooling, and healthier materials.
Customers have always played a part in achieving energy efficiency by being aware of its benefits and by purchasing energy efficient products, sometimes with the help of utility-provided rebates and incentives. Since those programs started, customers have become more engaged in energy use and in utility operations. Additionally, technology has made it possible for more of a two-way conversation between utilities and customers to take place.
As a result, utilities can learn more about how customers are using energy and create policies suited to their needs and desires, such as time of use (TOU) programs and interactions related to energy storage and electric vehicles (EVs). For example, Arizona Public Service is using an EnergyHub distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) to help customers manage their renewable energy use.
Energy efficiency has always been critical for saving money, enhancing energy delivery efficiency, and helping the environment. That’s still the case but the methods used to achieve that end are shifting with new technologies, policies, and customer demands.
How is your utility changing the way it achieves energy efficiency? Please share in the comments.