Urban microclimatic variations, along with a rapid reduction of unit cost of air-conditioning (AC) equipments, can be addressed as some of the main causes of the raising residential energy demand in the more developed countries. This paper presents a forecasting model based on an Elman artificial neural network (ANN) for the short-time prediction of the household electricity consumption related to a suburban area. Due to the lack of information about the real penetration of electric appliances in the investigated area and their utilization profiles it was not possible to implement a statistical model to define the weather and climate sensitivities of appliance energy consumption. For this reason an ANN model was used to predict the household electric energy demand of the investigated area and to evaluate the influence of the AC equipments on the overall consumption. The data used to train the network were recorded in Palermo (Italy) and include electric current intensity and weather variables as temperature, relative humidity, global solar radiation, atmospheric pressure and wind speed values between June 1, 2002 and September 10, 2003. The work pointed out the importance of a thermal discomfort index, the Humidex index, for a simple but effective evaluation of the conditions affecting the occupant behaviour and thus influencing the household electricity consumption related to the use of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) appliances. The prediction performances of the model are satisfying and bear out the ability of ANNs to manage incomplete and noisy data, solve nonlinear problems and learn complex underlying relationships between input and output patterns. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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