NewEnergyNews: THE THING ABOUT HOME ENERGY

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    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    THE THING ABOUT HOME ENERGY

    Is Cutting Energy Use in Homes Possible? The problem with two refrigerators

    Katherine Tweed, August 23, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    “There are many promises that a smarter grid could unlock…[but smart meters that] give us all insight into our energy use so that we can save money and energy…is far from a given if historic energy use in homes is any indication.

    “From 1978 to 2005, energy use in homes is essentially a flat line. There have been incredible efficiency gains, primarily in home heating and cooling, but that has been offset by bigger homes and more stuff that needs to be plugged in…Even companies that have built business models around helping people understand and reduce their energy see the problem. Opower recently estimated that all of the second refrigerators in America suck up the equivalent energy use of 1.7 million homes.”

    “…It's unrealistic that Americans will simply consume far less than they currently do. But the question of how to get real, meaningful energy reductions across the bulk of homes is a problem when efficiency standards can barely keeping up with all of the stuff we’re buying…Efficiency programs must decrease energy use not just from current products but from an ever increasing number of end-uses…One solution is to drive efficiency standards for new products as they come out…[though] smart appliances…would [likely] have a minimal impact on overall energy use, as large appliances (outside of water heaters and AC units) are not the energy hogs they once were.

    “…[I]t’s unclear if utilities are interested in funding tech-heavy [smart meter] programs, unless they have specific pain points, likeOklahoma Gas & Electric trying to delay new generation. Real efficiency will also likely take more than technology. Retrofits are where the real savings are, but again there needs to be money available and interest from homeowners…[C]ompanies in the home energy efficiency space claim millions of customers with lots of aggregate savings…[but] it is still entirely unclear if these platforms can offset the extra fridge in the garage, the third big-screen TV or one more laptop.”

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