EcoFactor increases demand response yield for NV Energy

Peak loads are a large and growing problem for many utilities, especially those in hot climates

Redwood City, Calif., June 27, 2011 — EcoFactor, a residential energy management solution offered through service providers and utilities, announced a 2010 pilot deployment with NV Energy delivered a 36 percent increase in demand response yield as compared to conventional residential demand response.

The pilot included homes in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. With the success of the initial pilot, NV Energy has announced that the utility will expand its EcoFactor deployment this summer, increasing the number of participating homes in the Las Vegas area and adding Reno to the program as well.

Peak loads are a large and growing problem for many utilities, especially those in hot climates. In Reno and Las Vegas, NV Energy expects to call as many as 40 demand response events, ranging from 2 to 3.5 hours in duration, during the summer. In Las Vegas, residential air conditioning is roughly half of peak load, so finding ways to manage these loads without making people uncomfortable is vital.

Conventional residential demand response raises thermostat setpoints by three to four degrees for several hours at a time on the hottest summer afternoons, sacrificing the comfort of residents.

Additionally, this method actually limits grid-level benefits, because in most homes the inside temperature will hit the raised setpoint before the end of the demand response event, which causes the air conditioner to begin running again, thereby reducing the total amount of load that is shed.

Pre-cooling the home ahead of a demand response event offers the potential to both increase load shed and reduce discomfort. However, the optimal pre-cooling strategy depends on and varies with the weather, air conditioner capacity, and the thermal storage capacity of each individual home. To pre-cool successfully, all these factors must be taken into account.

EcoFactor's patented analytics track weather conditions, and identify the unique thermal characteristics of each connected home and air conditioning system. This allows EcoFactor to determine the optimal pre-cooling strategy for each connected home on any given day. By intelligently pre-cooling homes in advance of demand response events, NV Energy and EcoFactor were able to increase average load shed for connected homes by 36 percent relative to conventional demand response.

At the same time, EcoFactor also preserves comfort for demand response participants. While conventional residential demand response often means inside temperatures rise 3-4 degrees above the user's preferred temperature, which obviously causes discomfort for the occupants, the average inside temperatures during EcoFactor-optimized demand response events were within 0.5 degrees of the occupants' preferred setpoints.

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