Within the next decade, building operators and homeowners will more effectively optimize their energy consumption and resources in collaboration with their utilities to meet more than 20 percent of electrical demand in the United States.

This shift will put energy users at the center of efforts to make the utility grid smarter and more stable. Accomplishing the transformation will include measures such as permanent reductions in energy use, temporary consumption reductions when demand spikes and strains the grid, and increased on-site generation and storage. The key driver is the continued innovation and deployment of applications that connect homeowners and building owners to utilities and allow users to automate their response to changes in energy reliability and prices.

The expected growth in customer-focused energy programs was a key theme during Honeywell’s annual Users’ Group for Buildings in June.

Currently, energy capacity managed through customer-focused programs from utilities only represents about 5 percent of total U.S. requirements, but according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), utilities’ demand-response programs could increase that figure to 14 percent by 2020 and would reduce peak demand by 100 gigawatts. This level of generation capacity would eliminate the need for approximately 2,000 peaking power plants—plants that sit idle until a utility company’s customer energy demands are greater than the power it can deliver. In addition, energy-efficiency measures could cut annual electricity consumption in the United States by 2,700 terawatt-hours, or 10 percent of total usage.

“The real gains come in combining all these efforts,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “The smart grid is not just about making utility equipment and networks more intelligent. The other side of the coin is providing energy users with the technology that allows them to participate in the dynamic exercise of balancing supply and demand.”