Stochastic Simulation of Residential Building Occupant-Driven Energy Use in a Bottom-Up Model of the U.S. Housing Stock: arXiv:2111.01881 [eess.SY]

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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 at home, household energy consumption is stochastic and heterogeneous in nature. However, most residential building energy models applied by industry use homogeneous, deterministic occupant 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. This mattered less in the past, but the increasing proportion of variable renewable energy generators in power systems means that representing the heterogeneity and stochasticity of occupant behavior is crucial for reliable energy planning. This is particularly true for systems that include distributed energy resources, such as grid-interactive efficient buildings, solar photovoltaics, and battery storage. This work presents a stochastic occupant behavior simulator that models the energy use behavior of individual household members. It also presents an integration with a building stock model to simulate residential building loads more accurately at community, city, state, and national scales. More specifically, we first employ clustering techniques to identify distinct patterns of occupant behavior. Then, we combine time-inhomogeneous Markov chain simulations with probabilistic sampling of event durations to realistically simulate occupant behaviors. This stochastic simulator is integrated with ResStock, a large-scale residential building stock simulation tool, to demonstrate the capability of stochastic residential building load modeling at scale. The simulation results were validated against both American Time Use Survey data and measured end-use electricity data for accuracy and reliability.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5500-83706 for paper as published in Applied Energy

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-80461


  • agent-based modeling
  • building stock modeling
  • Markov chain
  • occupant modeling
  • residential electricity use
  • stochastic occupant behavior model


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