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Energy – Whatever the weather

  • The microgrid for the Smart Neighborhood in Hoover, Alabama, consists of solar panels and a battery pack and allows homes to disconnect from the main power grid. Credit: Southern Company

  • The Smart Neighborhood in Hoover, Alabama, a 62-home development is connected to a microgrid operated by ORNL’s open source controller. The research is sponsored by the DOE Building Technologies Office and supports BTO’s Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings strategy. Credit: Southern Company

  • The microgrid for the Smart Neighborhood in Hoover, Alabama, consists of solar panels and a battery pack and allows homes to disconnect from the main power grid. Credit: Southern Company

  • The Smart Neighborhood in Hoover, Alabama, a 62-home development is connected to a microgrid operated by ORNL’s open source controller. The research is sponsored by the DOE Building Technologies Office and supports BTO’s Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings strategy. Credit: Southern Company

To better determine the potential energy cost savings among connected homes, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a computer simulation to more accurately compare energy use on similar weather days.

“Since no two weather days are alike, we created a simulated weather identification model that keeps environmental impacts such as temperature changes and sunlight consistent,” said ORNL’s Supriya Chinthavali. “This will help address the challenge of quantifying energy cost savings, which utility companies and homeowners are most interested in.”

The team is analyzing energy use data from a neighborhood-level research platform comprising 62 homes called Smart Neighborhood®, powered by traditional electric grid and microgrid sources.

The goal is to co-optimize energy cost, comfort, environment and reliability by controlling the connected homes’ devices – particularly the HVAC and water heater, a home’s largest energy consumers.

Future analysis by ORNL, Southern Company and university partners will include potential energy cost savings details.