From the Lab to the Marketplace Ten Years Later, Energy Efficient Technologies from Research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley Lab logo (left) with six rows of gray dots transitioning to a line art drawing of a cityscape and residential houses.

Software for Consumers—Home Energy Saver (HES)

"Thanks for letting me use your Home Energy Saver module. It is one of the government services that make paying taxes worthwhile."

— Nick Wilder, Homeowner,
Wheat Ridge, Colorado

A house constructed from $50 bills and a computer mouse sitting on a screenshot of the Home Energy Saver home page.

Berkeley Lab researchers designed and maintain the Home Energy Saver (HES) to help consumers identify the best ways to save energy and reduce the carbon footprint of their homes, and find the resources to make the savings happen. HES brings these professional-grade capabilities to the consumer without requiring programming skills or powerful computers.

The Home Energy Saver is the first internet-based tool for calculating energy use in residential buildings. It quickly computes a home's energy use online. All end uses (heating, cooling, major appliances, lighting, and miscellaneous) are included, and users can customize their homes in detail and specify real-world energy rates. Users can change one or more features of the home to estimate how much energy, money, and pollution can be saved by different energy-efficiency improvements. The tool also provides an automated and customized ranking of upgrade recommendations, complete with energy savings, emissions reductions, and payback times by measure.

Windows of an enclosed patio; air conditioning unit; a collage of household appliances including a stove and washing machine; exterior lighting on a house.
Screenshot of a Home Energy Saver lower page and the Making It Happen portion of the web site.

Tools under the Home Energy Saver web site.

Cumulative visits to HES: March 1998 to April 2009. 1st million took 5 years, 2nd = 2.2 years, 3rd = 1.5 years, 4th = 1.1 years, 5th = ~0.9 years.

As of mid-2009, the site has had nearly 6 million visits, and about a third of the 10,000 users surveyed users say they have made specific improvements to their homes based on their use of the tool, and another 20% have taken steps in that direction (e.g. having a professional energy audit). High school and college students and teachers can use a special module, Energized Learning, to study science, math, and environmental analysis through this web-based simulator. A special user interface for contractors and home inspectors is under development.

Microsoft Hohm beta

In 2009, the underlying HES calculation methods and engines were licensed to Microsoft, which they used in the development of their Hohm service. In response to large demand from third-party software developers for customized user interfaces, HES is being made available more broadly as a web service.

The original development of HES was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as part of the national initiatives for improving energy efficiency in homes. Other sponsors have included the California Energy Commission Public Interest Research Program (PIER), the California Air Resources Board, and Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, and HUD's Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.

Screenshot of the Energized Learning web site
Screenshot of The 20% Solution web site.

Other software programs for consumers have been developed by Berkeley Lab researchers in response to specific needs. For example, during California's electricity crisis in 2000-2001, a website went live that still provide useful information today: The 20 Percent Solution.

To provide Californians with incentives to save energy during the crisis, California utilities developed a program that rebated 20 percent of the electric bill to residential and commercial consumers who reduced their total energy use by 20 percent during the summer months. Berkeley Lab's researchers developed the 20 Percent Solution to help consumers determine quickly and easily what they could do to save energy quickly.