DOE researchers begin field test for green home tech; will it live up to lab promises?

DOE researchers are scientifically testing four houses over 2.5 years to see if green technology lives up to its lab promises in the real world.

Researchers and local officials in Oak Ridge, Tenn. have officially begun testing green technology in four local homes to evaluate energy efficiency against cost.

The goal of the project is to use scientific research to see if off-the-shelf tech can really save energy and money. It's put on by the ZEBRAlliance, a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and builders Schaad Companies.

The four houses use some 55 to 60 percent less energy than conventional houses without cutting corners in the comfort department. Though the houses will be unoccupied during research, they've been rigged so that appliance, lighting and water use will occur automatically, to simulate an average family’s energy use.

For example, Seoul Semiconductor's solid state Acriche LED lights will be used in the test to see how they perform against conventional compact fluorescent lights. The lights promise five times the light for each watt consumed and an energy savings up to 86 percent compared to incandescent bulbs -- but are they worth the price premium compared to CFLs?

ORNL researchers will collect data to determine which technologies deliver the most bang for consumers' bucks. And before you inquire about future-proofing the study, the team says it will switch out equipment, appliances and controls with the latest energy-efficient products as they become available.

The houses will be offered for sale to the public at the end of the 30-month study period.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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