ASHRAE Project to Raise Awareness on Plug Loads
Mar 11, 2009
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To help students gain a better understanding of how being plugged in impacts building energy use, ASHRAE is funding a teaching project for students at the University of Oregon.

The students will be challenged to develop a better understanding of personal and broad-scale energy consumption and how appliance selection and behavior modification can impact energy use through a hands-on experience, known as Plugged In!. The project was one of 13 grants funded by ASHRAE through its senior undergraduate project grant program.

The grants, totaling some US$65,000, are awarded by ASHRAE to colleges and universities worldwide to promote the study and teaching of HVAC&R, encouraging undergraduate students to pursue related careers. The grants are used to design and construct projects.

As part of Plugged In!, students will "shop" for electrical appliances, determine the plug loads of each appliance and calculate their short-term and long-term energy implications. They also will develop a real-time monitoring and feedback loop of a dormitory, as part of their goal of modifying occupant behavior. The students will develop a Web interface using energy use animations to reflect the amount of actual energy use of the dorm.

"Students living in dorms across campus will see first-hand how their behavior impacts building energy use and how energy use impacts the environment,” said professor Alison Kwok. “Estimates show that plug loads can range from 10 to 25% of total building energy use. We want to show our students how energy use can influence decisions about building design and how their use of appliances can impact power use for the entire campus."

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