Miscellaneous electric loads (MELs) refer to the electric Loads in commercial and residential buildings that do not result from devices responsible for applications such as space heating, cooling, water heating, and lighting. MELs are produced by hard-wired or plug-in electrical devices such as home entertainment centers, kitchen appliances, hair dryers, hot tubs, ceiling fans, security systems, and more. Thanks to the rise of the ‘smart home’ and the increasing sophistication of home electronics, MELs are gaining in both use and importance.
Miscellaneous electric use includes a diverse collection of electronics such as Power Adapters, pool pumps, computer equipment, televisions, door bells, phones, and much more. MELs do not generally refer to larger devices such as refrigerators, stoves, washers & dryers, etc. While individual MELs are usually drawing miniscule amounts of power, the combination of many can account for a significant portion of a building’s energy. For instance, in the United States, MELs account for nearly one quarter of residential energy use, using more energy than in-home HVAC systems. In low-energy houses, or houses that are designed with the intention of minimizing energy consumption and carbon emissions, MELs percentage of total energy use increases markedly. This is because MELs are often not taken into consideration during efforts to increase the energy of an entire house.
MELs can be lowered through a variety of means, including using fewer electronic devices, using more efficient electronics, modifying user behavior, and managing standby power. In fact, 13% of MELs occur while devices are in standby mode. Despite this, MELs are still a difficult hurdle to overcome when creating zero-energy buildings. A zero-energy building is a building with zero net energy consumption. In other words, the amount of energy used by the building is equal to the amount of renewable energy it creates. In these buildings, energy consumption of large appliances like HVAC System, water heating equipment, and air distribution systems, can be lowered relatively easily. MELs are more difficult to control because of their diversity. The main problem is that certain small devices are in some households and not others, making true, sweeping efforts to lower their consumption more difficult.
Despite this, the United State Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office continues to make concerted efforts to reduce energy consumption. The continued rise of MELs necessitates the development of strategies to reduce energy consumption. The Building Technologies Office is taking charge of efforts to reduce the cost and consumption of HVAC, lighting, building envelope, and window technologies.
There are a variety of tools used to handle and distribute miscellaneous electric power. Federal Supply Class 6150 refers to Miscellaneous Electric Power and Distribution Equipment. Included in this FSC is appliance and extension cords, multi-application electric power and distribution cables with attachments, and common components of electrical rotating equipment such as end bells and frames. Part numbers belonging to this FSC are 120-055, 705637, 1155310-101, 3397AS1100, and many more. This Federal Supply Class belongs to the more general Federal Supply Group 61, pertaining to electric wiring and power distribution equipment.
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