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Creating more efficient energy systems

Study uncovers ways to reduce our energy use

How do you solve a problem that you can’t see? Improving California’s energy system presents one such challenge — it’s easy to measure where our energy comes from, but it’s not easy to determine how it’s used. Without this key information, engineers and policy makers are shooting in the dark when it comes to finding ways to make our energy use more efficient.

With funding from the UC Laboratory Fees Research Program, researchers at UC Davis and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have created a computer system that provides detailed, real-time data on how energy is used. For example, this system accounts for how and when factories use energy, the efficiency of household furnaces and whether there are seasonal differences in energy use.

“Our idea was to show where energy went, so we can see how that energy is transformed into useful services,” explained Alan Meier, the project’s lead investigator.

The information generated by this project could serve as an important tool in helping institutions achieve their carbon neutrality goals by providing insight into when, where and how efficiently energy is used. This knowledge can identify areas for improvement to help Californians collectively reach the goal of net-zero energy use.

“Our research has changed the way the Department of Energy is looking at and figuring out how to reduce this huge amount of wasted energy,” Meier said.

Learn more about Meier's work

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