systems would probably impose an unrealistic burden on both interviewers and respondents, but they could possibly be accommodated as part of a special study involving energy auditors. Some types of information, such as rate structures, would perhaps be more efficient to collect from the energy utilities than from the households.
One topic area that the panel would like to see pursued as part of the RECS is the integration of smart meter data. Given that this topic is also relevant to the CBECS, a joint effort could be mounted to evaluate the consumption surveys’ potential use of this technology.
Recommendation RECS-7: EIA should prepare for the more widespread availability of smart meter data in the future by evaluating potential uses of such data, strategies for collecting them, and ways of addressing new confidentiality challenges.
Another topic that deserves careful consideration is the possibility of collecting household transportation data as part of the RECS. As mentioned previously, EIA’s consumption survey portfolio has not included a transportation survey since the 1990s, when the Residential Transportation Energy Consumption Survey was discontinued. In 2009, a small section of transportation-related questions was added to the RECS; the decision to do so was based in part on the argument that household vehicles are a part of household energy consumption. With the growing presence of electric vehicles, which are generally charged at home, this discussion becomes especially relevant. Given that electric vehicles could, by the next round of the RECS data collection, become an end use with a significant effect on residential energy consumption, the panel encourages EIA to be ready to collect more information about this topic.
Recommendation RECS-8: In anticipation of the spread of electric vehicles, EIA should prepare for the RECS to collect more information about these, especially more detail about the capacity to charge electric vehicles.
EIA should also develop a process for evaluating changes in end uses more generally in order to determine if the RECS needs to be updated with new questions and whether any of the existing questions can be dropped. As noted previously, miscellaneous end uses—and electronics use, in