Miscellaneous and Electronic Loads Research (MELs, or Plug-in Devices)
Plug-in devices can consume from 10% to 50% of the total energy used in a commercial building and up to 60% in residential buildings. These devices include computers, monitors, task lights, fans, portable heaters, Ethernet switches, and printers, and many others devices that plug into the wall. Plug-in devices have been studied for ~ 20 years, and yet effective energy-savings measures remain elusive. There are a number of contributing reasons:
- Plug-in devices consist of a wide array of devices with many uses,
- Plug-in devices are often highly portable, and can be used in outlets at a number of locations; this makes it difficult to collect energy use data as conventional metering strategies won't work,
- Uses and usage patterns may be highly variable, making energy reduction strategies complex,
- Plug-in devices evolve rapidly in both technology and function; effective energy-savings strategies will have to address this characteristic
This study aims to empirically understand what devices are responsible for energy use, at what times, for what purposes. To estimate the potential for reducing energy use by plug-in devices, the field data collected in this project on usage patterns, power states, etc. will address critical information gaps.
In this study we will inventory the plug-in devices located in commercial and residential buildings, select some or all of the equipment for measurement, and install a device-level electricity meter to monitor the energy use of that device. We plan to collect measurement data for several months to provide high quality estimates of annual energy use and usage patterns.
Potential Benefits of Research
This project will benefit society in a number of ways, as research results can be used for:
- Improving the design and energy efficiency of buildings (such as Commercial Building Partnership buildings),
- Developing specific technologies to address energy use by plug-in devices,
- Working with manufacturers to improve the efficiency of miscellaneous devices,
- Evaluating the methods, effectiveness, and savings of control strategies (for both energy savings and peak demand reduction),
- Reducing the energy use of plug-in devices via feedback to users,
- Providing input to consumer information and education to reduce plug-in device(s) energy consumption and save money,
- Providing data to aid the development of effective public policies to reduce energy usage by plug-in devices,
- Improving designs of plug-in devices so that they interface more efficiently and seamlessly with other devices,
- Reducing cooling loads generated by plug-in devices,
- Improve the methods for measuring, estimating, and modeling of plug-in devices.
A summary of study results will be posted on project website, and the link distributed to Building 90 occupants.
This research is funded by the US Department of Energy