Cover: Measures of Residential Energy Consumption and Their Relationships to DOE Policy

Measures of Residential Energy Consumption and Their Relationships to DOE Policy

Published 1999

by David S. Ortiz, Mark A. Bernstein


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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) compiles, analyzes, and disseminates data and information on energy use. Each usage calculation depends upon a measurement of energy — such barrels of oil, kilowatt hours of electricity, or cubic feet of natural gas — and every measurement carries with it a degree of uncertainty and possibility for bias. The gas and electricity industries claim that the measurement of energy has the potential to influence the market for their products. This report addresses whether the measurement of energy consumption at the point of use, or at the point of generation or extraction, carries with it a bias toward one fuel or another in the residential sector. Among the authors' findings, they were unable to show that energy standards and labels for water heaters or residential energy codes based upon either site or source energy measurement have had significant impact on fuel share. Further, their conclusions support the available literature, which suggests that a single measurement of energy consumption is not adequate to achieve all the DOE goals of reducing costs to consumers simultaneously for different regions of the country.

This research was sponsored by RAND's Science and Technology unit.

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