Murkowski: Smart Building Technologies Promote Energy Efficiency and Resiliency in American Homes and Businesses

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to discuss new efficiency opportunities provided by advanced building management and control systems. The committee heard from representatives of the Department of Energy (DOE), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Southern Company, and Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions.

Smart technologies have had a big impact on reducing energy use and costs across the nation. According to DOE’s Building Technology Office, new homes in the United States use about 20 percent less energy for space heating than older homes. Those households are paying roughly $216 less per year by using more energy efficient equipment and appliance standards - although, that has not been enough to address high energy costs in places like rural Alaska.  

“These numbers are dramatically different in Alaska, where energy costs are exorbitantly high, and some of our rural communities live dangerously close to, or are already in, energy insecurity,” Murkowski said. “Some Alaskan families pay thousands of dollars a month – up to half of their household budgets, on energy alone. The challenges in rural Alaska are unique, and that is certainly true when it comes to optimizing the way a building uses energy.”

Bruno Grunau, chief programs officer of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, highlighted the significant strides being made to save on energy and create resilient, healthy, durable, sustainable homes in Alaska.

“Our focus at the research center is applied research, and how quickly can we get this research on the ground to demonstrate it,” Grunau said. “Our philosophy is if you cut the [energy] demand in half, you’re effectively doubling the supply. Cutting the demand doesn’t just save money for families and businesses, but reduces the stress on our natural resources, eases pressure on the grid, and makes our communities more resilient to natural disasters and economic uncertainty.”

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video and testimony from today’s hearing are available on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view both rounds of Murkowski’s questions for witnesses. 

Related Issues: Energy