Basic Information about RHC
What is Renewable Heating and Cooling?
Renewable heating and cooling (RHC) is the generation of energy from renewable technologies and resources to serve end-use applications such as:
- Heating water for pools or other uses
- Space heating
- Space cooling
- Process heat
Opportunities for Renewable Heating and Cooling
Although the United States has focused on reducing the environmental effects of conventional energy in the electric power and transportation sectors, in reality about one-quarter of total delivered energy consumption provides heating and cooling for buildings, domestic water, and a variety of industrial processes.
The pie charts below show delivered energy consumption in the United States by sector, along with a detailed view of how energy is used within the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
- Overall, residential, and commercial breakdowns: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2014. Annual Energy Outlook 2014. The data shown here are for the year 2013, and they are taken from EIA’s energy consumption and emissions tables.
- Industrial breakdown: CSGI, Inc., and Energetics, Inc. 2001. Roadmap for Process Heating Technology (54 pp, 577 K, About PDF). The percentages shown here are from a 1995 estimate by the Gas Research Institute, which remains the best available estimate. More recent data are available for the manufacturing sector, but not for the broader industrial sector as a whole.
These numbers do not include electricity-related losses, which represent the difference between the energy content of the fuels used to generate electricity and the amount of electrical energy that is ultimately delivered to the customer.
*The transportation sector is not included in the smaller pie charts because it is not a prime candidate for renewable heating and cooling technologies.
**In the industrial sector graph, “other” includes non-process heating, cooling, ventilation, machine drive, and more. In the residential and commercial sector graphs, “other” includes lighting, electronics, refrigeration, ventilation, and other appliances and devices.
Collectively, thermal energy for heating and cooling provides many opportunities to save money, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and help protect the environment by switching to clean, renewable energy sources such as solar energy, geothermal energy, and sustainable forms of biomass.
Benefits of Renewable Heating and Cooling
Some have described renewable heating and cooling as the “sleeping giant” of renewable energy opportunities. Renewable thermal technologies offer a safe, clean, efficient, and increasingly cost-competitive option for reducing conventional energy use. These technologies are proven, mature, and low-risk, offering significant financial, environmental, and energy benefits to project stakeholders. Renewable heating and cooling offers the following benefits:
- Provides predictable and often fixed-price energy over the life of the project
- Offers a hedge against financially volatile conventional energy sources such as oil, gas, or electricity
- Reduces emissions and air pollutants without sacrificing comfort or performance
- Utilizes sustainable renewable resources rather than finite fossil fuels
- Increases our energy security by developing domestic energy sources
- Stimulates local jobs and domestic economic growth
Explore the rest of this website to learn more about renewable heating and cooling: