U.S. DOE Investigating Miscellaneous Electric Loads

Tue, 07/05/2016 - 13:38 -- MrGreen

The U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office (BTO) is looking for ideas on how to reduce the expanding energy consumption of Miscellaneous Electric Loads (MELs).

Simply put, MELs are all of the products connected to a building's electricity supply, excluding the building's core functions such as lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water heating and refrigeration. The focus on MELs is because the percentage of the energy consumed by MELs is rising as core function products become more efficient. According to the EIA, MELs U.S. energy consumption will grow from 32.6% (2016) to 38.0% (2030) of the country's total annual energy consumption unless action is taken. The following tables reveal the 2020 forecasted energy use distribution for residential and commercial MELs.

Residential Load/End-Use Primary 2020 Energy Consumption (TBtu)
Set-top box 448
Televisions 442
Cooking 350
Ceiling fans 317
Pool pumps and heaters 223
Boiler circulation pumps 173
Furnace fans 171
Microwave ovens 166
Spas 122
Dehumidifiers 100
Desktop PC 99
Laptop 95
Monitors 56
Coffee maker 50
Network Equipment 48
Non-PC rechargeable electronics 46
Home theater audio 39
DVD 30
Security systems 24
Video game consoles 21
Undefined MELs 3,290
Residential MELs Total Energy Use 6,310


Source: DOE BTO R&D Opportunities presentation, June 3, 2016

Commercial Load/End-Use Primary 2020 Energy Consumption (TBtu)
Non-PC office equipment 718
Water services 681
Kitchen ventilation 416
Dry-type transformers 393
PC office equipment 203
Security systems 93
Fume hoods 72
Cooking 67
Video displays 61
Lab refrigerators and freezers 43
Coffee brewers 32
Medical imaging 31
Elevators 30
Laundry 14
Escalators 6
Large video boards 1
Undefined MELs 3,970
Commercial MELs Total Energy Use 6,830


Source: DOE BTO R&D Opportunities presentation, June 3, 2016

The BTO's Emerging Technologies Program recently hosted a workshop to allow industry, academia, national labs, and utilities experts to review and discuss MELs energy consumption and the R&D programs underway to address the problem. Breakout groups addressed two major questions:

  • What technology platform and appliance-specific solutions exist today that could reduce MELs energy consumption?
  • What are appropriate quantitative metrics and targets for specific technology solutions for reducing MELs?

Attendees also formed separate groups to discuss the following topics:

  • How DC bus power reduces MELs energy consumption
  • High-efficiency small motors
  • Standby power mode and very low power communications
  • Self-powered and wireless charging
  • Automated controls, including non-invasive controls, response to human conditions, and energy reporting
  • Data disaggregation, including baseline benchmarking, sub-metering, and defining “undefined” MELs

Presentations from the workshop can be accessed here. To learn more and to join the BTO's mailing list for future updates, click here.