The Experimental Home
The Experimental Home serves as a test-bed for energy-efficiency technologies. Here researchers are testing the effectiveness of energy-efficient technologies by comparing the energy, water, and environmental data from this laboratory home with that of the Baseline Home over the course of the experiment.
Before any experiments begin, the Baseline home and the Experimental home are "null tested." Tests are conducted on every feature of the homes, including air leakage testing, duct leakage testing, and an IR (infrared) camera assessment of insulation performance. To calibrate the data from the two homes, the measurements are compared before any new experiments are begun. As the experiment progresses, the staff researchers can be confident that any changes in energy consumption, water consumption, or indoor air quality can be attributed to the technology being tested. At the end of the experiment, the new technologies are removed and the home is returned to its original "baseline" settings prior to any new experiments.
The initial Lab Homes experiment was focused on thermal performance of highly insulating (R5) windows (FY11/12). In the future, the Experimental Home will be crucial to research evaluating smart appliances, smart electric car charging stations, heat pump water heaters, efficient envelopes, HVAC, and solar-thermal/PV. Our long-term goal is to demonstrate an intelligent, responsive, zero net energy, zero net peak load retrofitted home over a period of five years.