Breaking Barriers to Home Electrification Through the EAS-E Prize

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The EAS-E Prize supports innovators working to meet decarbonization goals through electrification upgrades. Graphic by John Frenzl, NREL.

As the nation makes strides toward meeting broad clean energy goals, identifying focus areas is necessary to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. An important but difficult target among these goals is the U.S. building stock, which accounts for 35% of U.S. energy-related emissions, and the electrification of homes is a major part of the strategy.

Home electrification means replacing fuel-based end uses (such as furnaces, boilers, and certain appliances) with electric versions. The goal of electrification is to tap into renewable electricity generation from sources such as wind or solar power to eliminate emissions associated with building operation.

However, not all homes have the same upgrade needs. In some homes, building envelope upgrades can improve the reliability, affordability, and performance of electrification upgrades. Others will require load management solutions, low-power appliances, or other innovations that allow a home to electrify within constraints due to climate or infrastructure.

Because of these challenges, the cost and complexities of home electrification can be a barrier to upgrading certain dwellings. That is particularly true in low-income communities, multifamily homes, mobile homes, older homes, and homes located in colder climate regions.

How can you help solve these challenges to ensure that fast, easy, and accessible electrification innovations are available to every homeowner who is ready to make the switch?

The American-Made Equitable and Affordable Solutions to Electrification (EAS-E) Home Electrification Prize is the answer.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the EAS-E Prize offers up to $2.4 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to accelerate the development and deployment of novel, easy, and equitable electrification approaches.

“Our research has shown that some homes have significant barriers limiting their ability to electrify,” said Iain Walker, staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and technical advisor for the EAS-E Prize. “The EAS-E Prize is a great way to help these homes so that everyone can participate in transition to a sustainable future.”

The innovations developed and launched in response to the prize will also benefit the broader housing retrofit market by advancing building electrification solutions that are fast, easy, and scalable.

EAS-E Prize competitors are challenged to develop affordable, scalable, easy electrification solutions that optimize whole-home electricity usage and benefit the broader housing retrofit market.

“This could be a game changer for equitable home electrification,” said Sarah Truitt, prize manager in the Building Technologies and Science Center at NREL. “The EAS-E Prize not only focuses on the affordability factor but actually creates solutions that serve homes more common in low-income and under-resourced communities.”

The EAS-E Prize is a two-phase competition:

Phase 1: Concept Paper

Phase 1 of the EAS-E Prize opened in December 2022. In this phase, teams submit a concept paper summarizing how their solution addresses affordable electrification. Concept paper submissions must outline the proposed solutions, compare them with current practices, identify market opportunities and potential risks, discuss forming a capable team, and describe the intended Phase 2 demonstration. Concept paper submissions are due by March 8, 2023.

Up to five Phase 1 winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize and will be eligible to compete in Phase 2. Additionally, Phase 1 winners will each receive a $75,000 voucher to work with the American-Made Network of qualified service providers to bring their concepts off the page and into buildings.

Phase 2: Demonstration

Winning competitors from Phase 1 will finalize their teams, complete solution-design documentation, evaluate the size of the potential market and the commercial viability of the solution, and demonstrate functional prototype solutions. Phase 2 will open October 2023. Up to three prizes will be awarded under Phase 2 with a grand prize of $1 million.

Interested in Applying?

Submissions for Phase 1 of the EAS-E Prize will be accepted until March 8, 2023. Review the official rules for the complete application process and instructions for competing. Follow the EAS-E Prize on HeroX.com for all related updates.

The EAS-E Prize is part of the American-Made program, which fast-tracks innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring.

Learn more about NREL’s world-class buildings research.

Courtesy of NREL.


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