Sensitivity Analysis of Occupant Preferences on Energy Usage in Residential Buildings: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Residential buildings, accounting for 37% of the total electricity consumption in the United States, are suitable for demand-side management (DSM) programs to support effective and economical operation of the power system. A home energy management system (HEMS) enables residential buildings to participate in such programs. It is important to account for occupant preferences in HEMS to ensure occupant satisfaction while participating in DSM programs. For example, people who prefer a higher thermal comfort level are likely to consume more energy. In this study, we used foresee™, a HEMS developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), to perform a sensitivity analysis of occupant preferences with the following objectives: minimize utility cost, minimize carbon footprint, and maximize thermal comfort. To incorporate the preferences into the HEMS, the SMARTER method was used to derive a set of weighting factors for each objective. We performed week-long building energy simulations using a model of a home in Fort Collins, Colorado, where there is mandatory time-of-use electricity rate structure. The foreseeTM HEMS was used to control the home with six different sets of occupant preferences. The study shows that occupant preferences can have a significant impact and is important to consider when modeling residential buildings. Results show that the HEMS could achieve energy reduction ranging from 3% to 21%, cost savings ranging from 5% to 24%, and carbon emission reduction ranging from 3% to 21%, while maintaining a low thermal discomfort level ranging from 0.78 K-hour to 6.47 K-hour in a one-week period during winter. These outcomes quantify the impact of varying occupant preferences and will be useful for controlling the electrical grid and developing HEMS solutions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2021
Event15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability (ES2021) - Denver, Colorado
Duration: 16 Jun 202118 Jun 2021


Conference15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability (ES2021)
CityDenver, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-79250


  • carbon footprint
  • cost savings
  • demand response
  • energy efficiency
  • occupant preferences
  • residential buildings
  • sensitivity analysis


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