Course Correction: Residential Power Factor 

To maximize the impact of efficient technologies, the industry needs to correct residential power factor

Over the past several decades, utilities, building energy managers, and homeowners have been increasingly investing in energy efficiency measures, efficient appliances and rooftop solar. These efforts have saved countless megawatt-hours of energy and millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and the need for these measures are only increasing as we continue to decarbonize the power sector. However, despite this progress, there is an often overlooked but increasingly concerning metric that is preventing the industry from maximizing residential sector energy efficiency investments – total power factor.

To demonstrate the challenges and opportunities associated with power factor, we used Pecan Street’s home energy use and PV data to explore the grid impacts of poor residential power factor and the system benefits of power factor correction. The analysis showed that by improving power factor of the homes in our sample, an additional current capacity of 12-16% to the distribution system can be achieved. This savings represents a significant increase in transmission and distribution capacity that would lower energy sector emissions and free up capacity for serving additional customers with existing generation assets – all without upgrading any utility infrastructure.

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