Alabama is building the first smart neighborhood of its kind: a community made of only high-performance homes that use less energy and have higher indoor air quality, all built with high-efficiency construction techniques. Each home has a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score between 40-50 (homes at the lower end of the HERS index are more energy efficient, with a typical home at an HERS of 130). Every home comes with state-of-the-art variable capacity HVAC systems and electric-thermal hybrid water heaters, both of which connect to the internet and are programmable with smartphones. The homes in this smart neighborhood connect to a mini community-level power grid supplied by solar PV panels, natural gas energy generation, and a battery storage system to reduce electrical costs while maximizing the neighborhood’s resources. Smart neighborhoods like this offer energy efficiency and smart technology researchers the opportunity to research, test, and optimize real world, large scale applications for future technologies.
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