U.S. Dept. of Energy's new Pacific Northwest National Laboratory project will study energy-efficient, smart- home technologies that can be added to homes after construction
November 15, 2011
– Two new research facilities at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will serve as a test bed for studying energy efficient and smart homes. PNNL and its project partners will mark the start of the research effort by cutting a ribbon at the new facilities at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
"The PNNL Lab Homes project is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest region," said Steve Shankle, director of PNNL's Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings Division. "The facilities will be an excellent resource for PNNL and its regional and national partners to test a variety of smart and energy efficient technologies that ultimately may be used in homes in the Northwest and throughout the U.S."
Shankle noted that residential buildings currently account for about 22 percent of the nation's annual energy use so widespread adoption of energy-saving technologies could significantly reduce the nation's energy needs as well as lessen environmental effects from energy use, and result in smaller energy bills for residents.
PNNL and its partners will use the identical, 1,500 square-foot Marlette manufactured homes for experiments focused on reducing energy use and peak demand on the electric grid. Research and demonstration primarily will focus on technologies that can be added to a home after construction, and the homes will offer a side-by-side ability to test and compare new ideas and approaches that are applicable to site-built as well as manufactured homes in the region.
The first project will be a nine-month study of highly insulating windows, purchased from Jeld-Wen, with future research focused on smart grid appliances provided by GE Appliances. Researchers will assess the ability of the highly insulating windows to reduce the energy and cost to the homeowner. Researchers also will evaluate how well the windows can enhance comfort in the home compared to standard, double-pane windows commonly found in many existing homes across the country.
In a second project, researchers will study the potential energy and cost savings smart appliances can provide. The appliances — including a range, refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and clothes dryer — have the ability to respond to a pricing signal from an electric utility. The appliances can temporarily turn themselves off when prices are high — generally during times of peak demand on the grid, like after work — and then resume operation when prices lower, saving money and relieving stress on the grid.
In each study, one home will remain a control typifying an average, existing home in the region, while the other will test a new technology. Occupancy in each home will be simulated to account for human activity.
Organizations funding work in the PNNL Lab Homes project include the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Bonneville Power Administration, DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and the City of Richland, Wash. The site for the home was donated by Battelle and is included in the footprint of the Tri-Cities Research District in north Richland. The home purchase and site work is being conducted under a competitive contract administered by PNNL.