Energy Department Invests in Heating, Cooling, and Lighting

August 21, 2013

The Energy Department on August 14 announced 12 projects to develop innovative heating, cooling, and insulation technologies as well as open-source energy efficiency software to help homes and commercial buildings save energy and money. These projects will receive approximately $9 million from the Energy Department along with about $1 million in matching private sector funding.

The Energy Department will invest about $6 million for nine projects that will develop new energy efficient building technologies, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and building insulation. The projects will also help curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases primarily used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Among the selected projects, the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory will develop affordable insulation plastic film for large windows. The Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratories along with United Technologies Research Center will help demonstrate a rotating heat exchanger technology for residential HVAC systems. And the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with Thermolift, Stony Brook University, and National Grid will help commercialize a natural gas heat pump to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings. See the complete project list PDF.

Commercial and residential buildings use nearly 40% of the total energy consumed in the United States each year and produce more than 40% of the nation’s carbon pollution. According to the Energy Information Administration, about 48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes in 2009 was for heating and cooling, down from 53% in 1993. While better insulation and more efficient windows and equipment helped precipitate this decline, the projects announced are focused on furthering these savings.

The Energy Department also announced about $3 million to three projects—led by the University of California, Virginia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon University—to develop open source software that helps building owners and operators measure, monitor, and adjust lighting, HVAC, and water heating energy use to save energy without compromising performance. According to a study by the Energy Department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, commercial building owners could save an average 38% on heating and cooling bills by installing energy control systems. See the Energy Department press release.