When looking into energy efficiency and sustainability in the residential sector it is difficult to go past the Davis housing project study at the University of California.
This project aims to investigate the impact that a normal level of energy and car usage could have on the national grid in a community that has the latest renewable power and technology. It may seem anomalous that the main supporter of this project is the Honda Motor Company which, in addition to providing funding and technology, has provided the community with electric cars for the duration of the study.
The house is powered by solar panels that are connected to storage batteries in the garage. The house is monitored by an energy management system that is designed to use optimal efficiency, drawing off the battery in peak times and recharging the battery during off peak times. The house is still connected to the national grid and in times of good electricity generation the house will put power back into the grid. If times got desperate the house could be powered by the car in the garage.
The aim is to show that lifestyle does not need to suffer by going sustainable; other features include:
- 65 inch television.
- Large living spaces and multiple bedrooms.
- High level of insulation
- Lights that adjust to the outside light and turn off when you leave the room.
- Ability to control house features and monitor energy use by IPad.
There are still a number of issues to overcome in this journey, the main one cited by Honda being “regulatory policies and utility pricing structures need to catch up with the state of technology to compensate homeowners fairly for the societal and grid benefits that a home energy-management system provides.”
This is an exciting space although at this stage it appears that the main innovation is being led by universities and large technology developers. While this technology may not be consumer ready yet, once the design has been developed the product and systems will be able to be commercialised in a short time frame. The question will then be whether government/council regulations are in the best position to facilitate this development; a question that should be asked sooner rather than later.
To follow the house click here.
A more detailed article also appears on Stuff.