Energy Resilience: Critical Load Support in Commercial and Residential Applications

Energy resilience involves a set of assets and plans to minimize a loss of power at a home or business during an outage. Resilience measures are increasingly common as the electricity grid evolves to incorporate micro-grids, battery storage, and other strategies. This paper reviews three multi-year energy resilience demonstration projects undertaken at Efficiency Vermont. One project looked at a microgrid that would construct zero-energy modular homes to run off a microgrid during a power outage from a severe storm (under normal operations, that microgrid would offer grid and economic benefits to the utility and community). Using direct current (DC) rather than alternating current and related DC-capable equipment would let the microgrid realize a roughly 10% efficiency improvement, but many decisions must still be made about DC appliances and operation and ownership of the proposed microgrid. Another project installed heating mitigation measures that employed phase change materials in two Vermont buildings; energy use characteristics required further refinement in one, while another needed PCM changes to become ready to measure. A third project evaluated the relationship between winter temperatures and how long occupants could stay comfortable in their home during a power outage, limitations of the modeling software will need to be addressed before useful results can be collected. These projects all help inform homeowners, businesses, and utilities about the most cost-effective ways to implement resilience, from simple and inexpensive options to high-capital projects.

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