Stochastic Simulation of Occupant-Driven Energy Use in a Bottom-Up Residential Building Stock Model

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15 Scopus Citations


The residential buildings sector is one of the largest electricity consumers worldwide and contributes disproportionally to peak electricity demand in many regions. Strongly driven by occupant activities, household energy consumption is stochastic and heterogeneous in nature. However, most residential energy models applied by industry use homogeneous, deterministic activity schedules, which work well for predictions of annual energy consumption, but can result in unrealistic hourly or sub-hourly electric load profiles, with exaggerated or muted peaks. The increasing proportion of variable renewable energy generators means that representing the heterogeneity and stochasticity of occupant behavior is now crucial for reliable planning at both bulk-power and distribution-system scales. This work presents a novel and open-source occupancy simulation approach that can simulate a diverse set of individual occupant and household event schedules for all major electricity, fuel, and hot water end uses. To accomplish this, we evaluated three alternative occupant activity simulation approaches before selecting a hybrid combining time-inhomogeneous Markov chains and probability-sampling of event durations and magnitudes. We integrated the stochastic occupancy simulation with an open-source bottom-up physics-simulation building stock model and published a set of 550,000 diverse household end-use activity schedules representing a national housing stock. The simulator was verified against time-use survey data, and simulation results were validated against measured end-use electricity data for accuracy and reliability. While we use data for the United States, our application demonstrates how similar approaches could be applied using the time-use survey data collected in many countries around the world.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number119890
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-83706


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Building stock modeling
  • Markov chain
  • Occupant modeling
  • Residential electricity use
  • Stochastic occupant behavior model
  • Urban building energy modeling


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