News Brief

ORNL Testing Energy Efficiency in Model Homes

Joe Tobb from General Electric shows off a device that opens and closes refrigerator doors, simulating house occupants in ORNL’s study homes in Tennessee.

Photo: Jeff Christian, ORNL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), in cooperation with the Tennessee Valley Authority, is building three houses in Tennessee to different energy-efficiency specifications in order to test their performance for up to seven years.

The homes range in size from 2,400­ to 2,512 square feet (220–230 m2) and have HERS ratings of 85, 64, and 30 (the lower the number, the better the energy performance). Each house incorporates some energy-efficient features; the highest-performance house will feature triple-glazed windows from Serious Materials and a roof that is expected to perform 55% better than a roof built to code.

Researchers will use mechanical devices and control systems to simulate, in a consistent manner, occupants in the house—including opening the refrigerator, running the clothes washer and dryer, and taking showers. Each home will be tested with the equivalent of low-energy-use and high-energy-use families based on national averages.

Published October 30, 2009

Wendt, A. (2009, October 30). ORNL Testing Energy Efficiency in Model Homes. Retrieved from

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