Eco-Living Magazine

NREL Builds Smarter Homes

Posted on the 05 June 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

NREL Builds Smarter HomesHere in Colorado, higher temperatures towards the end of May mean many people start switching on their air conditioners for the first time of the year. This increase in energy consumption as a result of air conditioning can create a great stress on the energy grid, causing energy companies to resort to rolling blackouts that are known to occur in Los Angeles, among other cities. The fact that energy companies are being forced to cut power supply to homes should be a major warning that energy consumption is too high, but so far there hasn’t been the necessary attention given to solving the problem of household energy overconsumption.

The growing consumption of energy from homes has increased as a result of more homes with air conditioning and  the introduction of more energy intensive appliances to a greater number of homes throughout the US. During times of high energy use, typically the late afternoon and early evening hours of the day, many Americans come home and flip on their televisions, cook their food, wash their clothes, all while illuminating their homes when the sun goes down.

Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are building homes that will give homeowners a heads up on the current stress of the electricity grid. During times of high stress on the grid, these smart homes will prompt homeowners to limit the use of energy intensive appliances, and instead wait until there is less stress on the grid. With these warnings, homeowners can decide whether they really need to wash and dry their clothes, watch TV, cook dinner, and run the vacuum all at the same time.

NREL’s work towards creating a smart and efficient electricity grid means better renewable energy integration and a reduction in wasted energy. By building these prototype smart homes, NREL is bringing solutions to the problem of energy overconsumption in the home.

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