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Assessing Energy
Savings Potential
of Products and
2004 APPA Customer
Connections Conference
Rob Penney
WSU Energy Program
The Need for Product
Energy Assessments
The Need
Utilities need unbiased information about products
& technologies when designing energy market
transformation programs
Utility staff are deluged by questions from vendors
and customers but lack time and/or ability to
assess products
Some are uncomfortable with potential liability
The Need
More and more “smart devices” (integrated
circuit logic to monitor and control lighting,
motors, HVAC), which are difficult to
Marketing may be misleading:
• Devices for other purposes (e.g., “power
conditioning”) marketed as saving energy
• Exaggerated energy saving claims
• Application-specific products marketed as
universally effective
• Testing and case studies may not be useful
The Need
Not cost-effective for each utility to assess a new
product or technology
Vendors with legitimate products lack easy and
timely access to utility staff
Expose “Snake oil” manufacturers quickly so
conservation resources are wisely invested
Encourage manufacturers to improve—and better
document—energy performance of products
The Need
Unbiased information speeds market
• Encourages utilities to incorporate promising
technologies into conservation / market
transformation programs, saving regional
• Manufacturers with promising products gain
market share more quickly
• Avoid investing limited market transformation
resources into products with unproven
The PTR Service
in the Pacific Northwest
The PTR Service
Product and Technology Review (PTR)—service
development began in 2002
Lighting products assessed by Lighting Design Lab;
others by WSU Energy Program
Funded primarily by Northwest Energy Efficiency
Lighting Lab also supported by Seattle City Light,
Puget Sound Energy, Snohomish County PUD, BC
Hydro, and Tacoma Power
Selecting Products to Review
Nomination by NW utilities, BPA, state energy
offices, or Oregon Energy Trust
Selection Criteria:
• Commercial and industrial technologies—either
new technology not in common use in NW or older
technology now marketed as having significant
energy savings
• Little unbiased information available
• Significant electricity saving potential
PTR Process
Gather independent test data, engineering studies,
case studies, manufacturer’s literature
Assess validity of test data, case studies, engineering
Search literature for product references
Share utility information and experiences through
Motivating Manufacturers
Communicating the Results
Manufacturer/distributor contact info
Product function and applications
Energy saving claims
Non-energy benefits
Independent testing results & case studies
Alternative products and strategies
Suggestions for further research and testing
Fact Sheet Disclaimer
Outlines intent and scope of assessment:
• Not to be construed as an endorsement
• Does not guarantee product performance
• Assessment includes information from the
The Liability Issue
Potential for litigation is a concern
Steps taken to limit liability:
• Perform secondary research only
• Have manufacturer sign liability waiver
• Carefully document and record process
• Include disclaimer in fact sheet
Assessments Completed
MicroPlanet: home/business voltage regulators
ArticMaster: refrigerant management system
Energy Director: peak demand management
Fan Saver: Walk-in cooler fan controller
WindTree: small rooftop wind generator
Assessments Proposed
Nominations being considered:
• A motor voltage controller
• Ceramic coatings
• Polarized refrigerant additive
• Fan controller for walk-in coolers
• A radiant heater
• Power conditioning devices
Possible Future Directions
Depending on funding, the PTR service could:
• Collaborate with other organizations
• Perform primary research
• Proactively identify products for review
• Expand focus of review to include performance,
power quality, reliability, training required, etc.
• Explore impacts of the service on utility
incentive programs, manufacturer
documentation, etc.
Summing It Up
Our Vision
Products with predictable and reliable energy
savings are more quickly adopted
Utilities and customers avoid unwise investment in
products less likely to provide energy savings
Manufacturers with promising products are able to
gain market share and more investors
Manufacturers improve testing and documentation
of energy savings
Our program expands through collaboration
Information Wanted
Share experiences of your assessment program or
refer me to someone else’s
Explore opportunities for collaboration and
information sharing
Share suggestions for
 Getting additional funding
 More effectively assisting utilities
 Avoiding liability
Pacific Northwest utilities
[email protected]
Western utilities contact:
The Power Line
[email protected]
Contact Information
Rob Penney
Senior Energy Engineer
WSU Energy Program
(360) 956-2053
[email protected]