Recent Energy efficiency research has shown that deep retrofits in commercial buildings can achieve 30-50% energy savings.


Complete renovations of HVAC units are generally fairly expensive, but significant, cost effective improvements can be made to existing systems with appropriate maintenance and sophisticated controls. Most installed systems in commercial and residential buildings are controlled by conventional wall mounted thermostats. The vast majority of thermostats are now programmable, but the impact of this trend on energy use and peak demand is ambiguous. Currently, there are several advanced thermostat-based controls emerging in the marketplace, such as those that use adaptive algorithms or occupancy sensors. Moreover, new and richer interfaces are available to fix the known usability problems with older devices. However, while manufacturers provide various case studies, the real impacts on energy use and peak demand for these technologies is not well characterized, and the approaches have not been compared objectively.


As an independent research center our goal is to test these devices in the field and answer these questions:


  • Do advanced controls really save energy? If so in which conditions?
  • Do new interfaces and feedback devices help achieve energy savings?
  • Does adding intelligence to the local (room) control offer the best solution to optimize the operation of the HVAC system?
  • How can we characterize the savings generated by these controls and separate them from other effects?


WCEC is evaluating these devices in demonstration projects and modeling their performances using simulation tools.


WCEC Literature



External Resources