Pre- and post-COVID-19 household energy data analysis to support utility and property management policy

O'Brien, William | $50,000

Ontario Carleton University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

With the advent of the COVID‑19 pandemic, we do not have a complete picture yet of what the impacts are. The energy supply sector has been greatly affected as a result of the virus-induced restrictions that have been rolled out by policymakers from closures to work-from-home orders. Households energy consumption has increased due to both conventional demand (space heating, hot water, cooking and dish washing, etc.) and new demand (related to teleworking). With the upcoming planned re-opening, teleworking will continue, but office life – in some form – will too. This will return the non-residential energy demand, to some extent, to its regular level along with the increased household demand, which will put more pressure on the energy supply capacity. In this regard, there are myriad challenges that grid operators, housing providers, and their customers face, from the supply chain to broader questions about the economic impact, uncertainty in demand projections, and the ability of end customers to pay their bills.

The goal of the project aims to uniquely explore these research problems from two different angles: supply-side (Hydro Ottawa) and demand-side (Ottawa Community Housing). The proposed research represents a unique contribution to the energy sector across Canada and will address several existing challenges. The planned outcomes of this partnership are (i) development of a representative households’ energy demand daily profile resulting from COVID-19, (ii) gain insights about the energy-related attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs of knowledge-based workers who are now forced to work from home as a result of COVID‑19 policies, and (iii) develop evidence-based guidance/recommendations in terms of electricity pricing policy, approaches to energy efficiency measures, long-term adaptation if telework becomes popular. This project is equally important for utilities and building managers as it is for individual households, regarding the economics and availability of energy supply. Moreover, it has environmental implications because of the potential long-term impacts of energy-related behaviour and habits.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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