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DOE Publishes Methods for Estimating Energy Efficiency Savings

In April 2013 the U.S. Department of Energy published the first set of protocols for determining energy savings from energy efficiency measures and programs in a report titled Methods for Determining Energy Efficiency Savings for Specific Measures

The protocols were developed under the Uniform Methods Project, through collaboration with energy efficiency program administrators, stakeholders, and Evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V) consultants—including the firms that perform up to 70% of the energy efficiency evaluations in the United States. The goal is to strengthen the credibility of energy efficiency programs by improving EM&V, increasing the consistency and transparency of how energy savings are determined.

Current energy efficiency EM&V practices in the United States use multiple methods for calculating energy savings. These methods were initially developed to meet the needs of individual energy efficiency program administrators and regulators.

While the methods served their original objectives well, they have resulted in differing and incomparable savings results—even for identical measures. These differences can be significant according to a study published by the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action NetworkPDF. The inconsistent results have limited the acceptance of reported energy savings.

Through the Uniform Methods Project, DOE aims to establish easy-to-follow protocols based on commonly accepted engineering and statistical methods for determining gross savings for a core set of commonly deployed energy efficiency measures. The protocols also include:

  • A description of measure and application conditions
  • An algorithm for estimating savings
  • An example of a typical program offering and alternative delivery strategies
  • Considerations for the measurement and verification process, including an International Performance Verification and Measurement Protocol (IPMVP) option
  • Data requirements for verification and recommended data collection methods
  • Recommended program evaluation elements
  • Fall-back options for lower-cost EM&V approaches

The protocols provide guidance on energy savings determinations, which will be available as a reference to improve EM&V practices.

The protocols include the most common residential and commercial energy efficiency measures found in utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs in the United States.

The DOE hopes the protocols will provide increased consistency and transparency, improved energy efficiency programs and a strengthened EM&V industry.

Questions about the protocols can be directed to:  ump.protocols@nrel.gov.

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