ENERGY STAR Smart Home Energy Management Systems

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 14:15 -- MrGreen

On July 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a guided discussion on Smart Home Energy Management Systems.  Because the ENERGY STAR label is well known and trusted, the ENERGY STAR team feels that it is in a unique position to address connected functions in products.  In fact, from 2011 to the present, connected criteria (such as interoperability, energy use reporting, demand response, and standby power limits) have already been included as optional elements in eleven types of product specifications.  Product certification requirements, moreover, are already in place for smart thermostats.  With consumer interest in smart home products booming, the EPA believes that now is the time to build in energy savings.  Shipments of smart devices and systems in the U.S. are expected to increase from 22M to 96M over the ten years following 2016.

One key proposal centers around a systems concept, in which hardware, occupancy information, and automated services are integrated together to deliver energy savings.  Questions related to this concept are organized into topics such as scope, qualification criteria, evaluation, and definitions.

Regarding scope, the team is seeking input from stakeholders on what products should be included, or excluded, from these systems.  Beyond smart thermostats and smart lighting, there are devices that address energy used by miscellaneous electronic loads (MELs) such as smart plugs, outlets, and power strips.  In addition, there is occupancy sensing.  In the end, the idea is to work through service providers who offer packages meeting key criteria, for example, through energy optimization strategies based on occupancy with verifiable data through a gateway provider.

With respect to qualification criteria, metrics would aim to recognize packages in the marketplace that successfully optimize system performance using occupancy information to save energy, for example, through “away” modes.  Such modes include both short-term and long-term “away” periods.  Questions also remain on how the software would integrate with the hardware and allow for meta-data on behaviors such as user opt-out frequency.  To inform the appropriate criteria, information is also needed to understand the range of power used by smart switches beyond what is demanded by the plug loads.  Information is sought to guide the limits on standby power.

Finally, for evaluation, there is reliance on field data for behavioral interactions on top of the usual laboratory testing.  It is important, moreover, to understand how to determine whether a system can respond to occupancy.  To enable assessments, data could be submitted twice per year to demonstrate savings, as is done for ENERGY STAR Smart Thermostats.  To maintain privacy, statistics could also be reported across a population of installations, including data such as the average number of ENERGY STAR devices of various types and add-ons as well as the average number of opt-out events, or user overrides.

More information, including a slide presentation from the ENERGY STAR team, can be found at

Stakeholder comments can be sent to  Further in-person discussions will also continue at the ENERGY STAR Products Partner Meeting on September 5-7 in Phoenix, Arizona.  To participate, more information can be found here.