The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.
Residential energy efficiency improvements include a number of technologies and building systems that reduce energy use in homes, while still delivering the same or superior service. This includes efficient consumption of energy in appliances and other devices (e.g., lighting, Energy Star TVs, computers and refrigerators), and efficient heating and cooling equipment (e.g., natural gas condensing boilers, heat pump water heaters, and high-efficiency air conditioners). It also includes application of various building materials and systems that reduce energy demand, including efficient windows, wall and attic insulation, air sealing, building controls (e.g., programmable thermostats, use of heating and cooling zones, smart appliances that respond to price and demand signals), wrapping of hot water/steam pipes with insulation, smart power strips that shut off devices to avoid standby losses, and alternatives to air conditioning such as whole-house fans. Some water-saving technologies (e.g., faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads, efficient dishwashers) also reduce energy used for water heating.