Analysis & Projections

Updated Buildings Sector Appliance and Equipment Costs and Efficiency

Release date: November 9, 2016

Energy used in the residential and commercial sectors provides a wide range of services: heating, cooling, lighting, refrigeration, cooking, and numerous other end uses.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) conducts multiple building-sector surveys, the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), that provide information on the equipment stock and energy consumption within existing buildings. However, these surveys do not directly gather other information that is important to forecasting future energy consumption, such as equipment cost information or nameplate efficiency ratings.

The Residential Demand Module (RDM) and Commercial Demand Module (CDM) of the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) contain equipment cost and performance technology "menus" that represent competing options for most of the major end uses. Multiple equipment classes and types are represented in these menus so that the projected equipment stock can change over time in response to fuel prices and other factors that affect equipment choice, such as appliance standards. The equipment menus interact with other NEMS parameters to determine market shares, equipment efficiency levels, cost estimates, and equipment interactions,1 and are used to translate service demand into energy demand.

The contract reports in Appendices A-D provide the information basis upon which these menus can be built with a consistent perspective on cost and efficiency characterizations across equipment and fuel types. Previous editions of the Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) used similar contract reports.

Appendices A and B constitute one set of reports that characterizes most major residential equipment and commercial heating, cooling, and water heating equipment. Appendix A is used in developing Reference case projections, while Appendix B is used in developing advanced technology cases.2 These assumptions were developed and implemented during the AEO2015 cycle.

Appendices C and D constitute another set of reports that characterizes residential and commercial lighting, as well as commercial ventilation and refrigeration equipment. Appendix C is used in developing the Reference case, while Appendix D is used in developing advanced technology cases. These assumptions were developed and implemented during the AEO2017 cycle.

When referencing the contract reports in Appendices A-D, they should be cited as reports by Navigant Consulting, Inc. and Leidos (formerly SAIC) prepared for the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


1Examples of equipment interactions are solar water heaters that supplement traditional water heaters, clothes washers that reduce the need for clothes drying, or water heaters that provide dishwashers and clothes washers with heated water.

2In addition to the Reference case, the demand sectors also project scenarios to explore different assumptions for the cost and performance of future technologies. For the more optimistic cases, some equipment achieves lower life-cycle costs through improved efficiency or lower upfront costs, or both. The contracted reports provide a base case and an advanced case for modeling the AEO Reference case along with the more optimistic cases. Advanced case assumptions are used to develop side cases for full AEO report years that include such analyses.