Residential Energy Performance Metrics

[tweetmeme Christopher Wright, Stuart Baur, Katie Grantham, Robert B. Stone and Scott E. Grasman have published an excellent new article titled „Residential Energy Performance Metrics.“  Techniques for residential energy monitoring are an emerging field that is currently drawing significant attention. This paper is a description of the current efforts to monitor and compare the performance of three solar powered homes built at Missouri University of Science and Technology. The homes are outfitted with an array of sensors and a data logger system to measure and record electricity production, system energy use, internal home temperature and humidity, hot water production, and exterior ambient conditions the houses are experiencing. Data is being collected to measure the performance of the houses, compare to energy modeling programs, design and develop cost effective sensor systems for energy monitoring, and produce a cost effective home control system.

The introduction to this paper reads:

The Building America program from the U.S. Department of Energy has a goal to reduce the average energy use of residential housing by 40% to 100%. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) the average energy use for the American household in 2001 was approximately 31,854 kWh per year. This would mean that the average US household would need to consume less than 19,112 kWh per year to meet that goal. An energy-monitoring project at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T, S&T, or University) is underway with the goal to identify and develop ways to reduce energy consumption in the residential sector.

To accomplish this, a sensor network has been installed in three solar-powered homes that the University has built as part of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition. The sensor system is key to the start of a residential energy research program to define the building science of whole home energy monitoring. The four major themes of the research include:

1. Energy efficiency performance data collection of the S&T solar homes;

2. Verification and possible suggestions for improvement of residential design software such as the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council’s ‘Energy-10’ and the U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘Energy Plus’;

3. Design and development of cost effective sensor system for residential energy performance feedback;

4. Cost effective home automation and energy management control system using the sensor system.

This article is focused on the development and plan of the first theme of the research, performance data collection of the S&T solar homes.

1.1. S&T Solar Village

The Missouri S&T Solar Village is a plot of land that consists of three solar homes that have been built by the University for the purpose of competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a collegiate competition to design and build high performing solar houses. These houses are fundamentally different from typical residential houses in that they have been designed for competition with new or different from mainstream building materials and systems.

They have also been designed to be modular and have the ability to be constructed and deconstructed in a matter of days. These houses are 1–2 persons, 1-bedroom homes limited to an exterior footprint of 800 square feet. They each reside on an unconditioned basement that contains all the mechanical systems of the house and are serviced only by electricity and water from the city. The houses also all have photovoltaic and solar thermal panels for the production of electricity and hot water respectively.

1.2. Research Approach: Model the Entire Building Envelope

Energy is most often thought of as strictly electricity, but that is only one part of the whole energy picture. Heat and light are other forms of energy that get produced, transported, and utilized every day. For instance, sunlight is a form of energy that can be harnessed for heat, light, or electricity. Understanding all energy and how it is utilized in the home is a gap in current energy monitoring systems.

The current project is designed to collect performance data on each of the S&T solar houses taking into account the entire building envelope, which includes ambient weather conditions, interior climate condition, electricity use, and hot water use. This data will be used to formulate a model of the whole building envelope that can predict energy usage of future residential buildings and be used as the plant in a home automation/energy management control system.

The first steps in this project and reported in this paper include defining the sensor system configuration in the experimental houses (i.e., the S&T solar village homes) to support the development of the energy model and the control algorithms. Figure 2 is a representational block diagram of the overall research approach.

Read the full article here in PDF format.

Citation: Wright, C.;Baur, S.;Grantham, K.;Stone, R.B.;Grasman, S.E. Residential Energy Performance Metrics. Energies 2010, 3, 1194-1211

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