Residential buildings constitute one of the largest demands for electricity. Although the contribution of air-conditioning to total energy use is quite small in many climates, this end-use can place a disproportionate demand upon the central electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system, particularly in the late afternoon of hot summer days. Even in some heating dominated climates, these can be the times of system-wide peak demand, and it is common for electrical systems (such as in Ontario, Canada) to meet marginal demands during these peak periods using generators fired by GHG-intensive fuels (coal and natural gas). The viability of achieving a zero peak house (ZPH)-a house that draws no electricity from the grid during system-wide peak periods-has been assessed via detailed building performance simulations using a case study house based upon a tract-built design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was found that 41%-51% of the goal of eliminating electricity consumption during the summer Ontario on-peak period (11h00 to 17h00 during weekdays from May 1 through October 31) could be achieved through a combination of architectural, control, efficiency, and occupant behaviour measures. It was also found that the remaining demand for electricity could be completely eliminated using realistically sized photovoltaic and battery systems for on-site generation and storage of electricity.

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Building and Environment
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Pietila, A. (Andrea), Beausoleil-Morrison, I, & Newsham, G.R. (Guy R.). (2012). Zero peak housing: Exploring the possibility of eliminating electrical draws from houses during periods of high demand on the electrical grid. Building and Environment, 58, 103–113. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2012.06.019