Analysis & Projections

Updated Buildings Sector Appliance and Equipment Costs and Efficiency

Release date: August 7, 2013

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 surveys of the building sectors, the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), which 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 "menus" that represent competing options for most of the largest end uses. Multiple classes and types are represented in the equipment 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. These equipment menus interact with other NEMS modules to determine market shares, equipment efficiency levels, cost estimates, and equipment interactions1, and are used to translate service demand to 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 was used in developing Reference case projections, while Appendix B was used in developing advanced technology cases2. These assumptions were developed and implemented during the AEO2012 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 was used in developing the Reference case, while Appendix D was used in developing advanced technology cases. These assumptions were developed and implemented during the AEO2013 cycle.

When referencing the contract reports in Appendices A-D they should be cited as reports by Navigant Consulting, Inc. and 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.