This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 01, 2011

ARPA-E, Stanford University Explore Hows and Whys of Energy Use

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is known for sponsoring high-risk, high-reward ideas on the cutting edge of energy research and development, such as a novel manufacturing process that that will reduce the cost of solar panels by 50%, battery technology that will allow energy storage for multiple hours on the power grid, and biofuels without photosynthesis. But, one ARPA-E project is a little bit different from the rest—rather than working toward a specific technological breakthrough, researchers at Stanford University's H-STAR Institute are seeking a breakthrough on the behavioral side of energy use. In other words, how do people make decisions about energy? What compels their behavior? And, how can energy be used more efficiently without adversely affecting peoples' lifestyles?

Stanford's team—comprised of researchers from communications, engineering, economics, psychology, medicine, and computer science—is combining behavioral approaches, product design, computation, and technology to encourage people to be more energy efficient at home, with a long-term goal of reducing average residential energy use by over 20%. See the Energy Blog post.