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Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS)

An Assessment of Interval Data and Their Potential Application to Residential Electricity End-Use Modeling

Release date: February 10, 2015


On September 30, 2014, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with support from the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), concluded a landmark research project focusing on EIA's energy consumption end-use models.

EIA uses these models to estimate how much of the total energy consumed in commercial buildings and residential units in the United States are used for space heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, lighting, and other end uses. The models use data from the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS).

The following are major activities included in the year-long research project:

  • Updated the 2003 CBECS engineering end-use models for use in the 2012 CBECS
  • Developed new engineering models for RECS
  • Standardized the CBECS and RECS methods of calibrating the sum of engineering end-use estimates to the reported (actual) total consumption
  • Conducted an assessment of current availability of interval data from advanced metering infrastructure systems (AMI data) and from submeter systems (submeter data) managed by utilities in key jurisdictions in the U.S., and evaluated their usefulness in the end-use modeling of residential electricity consumption

Highlights from the Residential AMI and Submeter Data Assessment

  • Over 40 million AMI meters that record kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption in intervals as fine as 15 minutes are installed across the U.S., in every state and by every major type of utility. The numbers of installed AMI meters are expected to rise appreciably in the future, and the data they produce are expected to converge to a common standard of reporting.
  • As residential customers are generally granted ownership of these kWh interval data, third parties wishing to access these data are required to ask permission from customers. Even with customer consent, however, ease of third-party access to AMI data depends on whether the utilities already have in place web-based systems for downloading the data.
  • Mostly due to costs associated with installation and maintenance of submeter systems, and the relatively uncommon regulatory initiatives to spur growth, submeter data are significantly less prevalent and are more variable in reporting characteristics than AMI data. This state of affairs is not expected to change in the future.
  • While submeter data are more directly useable for end-use modeling than AMI data, the situation just described makes AMI data the more favorable type of interval data to explore for applicability in the modeling and estimation of electricity end uses.

See full report