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NREL Study Shows Energy Analysts the "Least-Cost" Path to Zero Energy

Photo of a two-story, typical suburban high-performance house in Sacramento, with a background of cloudy skies.

High-performance home near Sacramento, California, a house of similar square footage was used for the NREL study.

September 1, 2006

A new study by NREL building researchers gives energy analysts and other building professionals the most cost effective path to zero energy consumption. NREL researchers were investigating ways to reduce peak utility loads when they discovered a more cost-effective approach to reduce a home's total energy consumption, including all electrical and heating loads. A 2,592-ft2 hypothetical home in Sacramento, California was used as a model for the study. The house was assumed to have features similar to that of typical homes in the area: slab foundation; two-car garage; similar window area; natural gas for cooking, space and water heating, and drying clothes. The computer modeling program used in the study is called BEopt. BEopt is a tool used by researchers faced with the challenge of comparing the costs, energy savings, and interactions between a large number of different combinations of energy-saving options that can potentially be used to achieve whole-building energy savings. Researchers at NREL have developed the BEopt analysis method as one approach to solving this analysis problem.

The study was presented at the ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in August 2006 in a paper titled, "Program Design Analysis using BEopt Building Energy Optimization Software: Defining a Technology Pathway Leading to New Homes with Zero Peak Cooling Demand." For more information, read, "Program Design Analysis using BEopt Building Energy Optimization Software: Defining a Technology Pathway Leading to New Homes with Zero Peak Cooling Demand." (PDF 695 KB) Download Adobe Reader.

Our study was also featured in the September 2006 issue of Energy Design Update®, a newsletter published by Aspen Publishers. A copy of their newsletter is provided with permission. © 2006 Aspen Publishers. (PDF 622 KB) Download Adobe Reader.