Space cooling energy usage prediction based on utility data for residential buildings using machine learning methods

Yanxiao Feng, Qiuhua Duan, Xi Chen, Sai Santosh Yakkali, Julian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The energy used for space cooling in residential buildings has a significant influence on household energy performance. This study aims to develop a user-friendly, infrastructure-free, and accurate prediction model based on large-scale utility datasets from anonymized volunteer homes located in three different climate zones in the US, along with the corresponding weather data and building information. Notably, several new weather- and building characteristics-related parameters were designed in the modeling procedure and tested to be useful for enhancing the model's prediction performance. A few regression techniques were examined and compared through hyperparameter optimization and k-fold cross-validation. Subsequently, a workflow was also described for how to implement the developed model. The research results showed that the eXtreme Gradient Boosting (XGBoost) model offered optimal performance, and the feature importance analysis also identified as well as ranked the key predictors to enhance the interpretability of this model. An R2 value of around 97% was obtained with that model on the whole dataset, while an R2 value of 92% was achieved with various subsets of the dataset through the cross-validation approach. The RMSE and RAE for this model were 0.294 and 0.153, respectively. The resultant model for predicting cooling energy consumption will facilitate homeowners better understanding their buildings’ performance levels with minimum input information and without additional hardware installations, ultimately aiding their decision making related to energy-saving strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116814
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Building characteristics
  • Cooling energy
  • Energy prediction
  • Machine learning method
  • Parameter tuning
  • Utility data
  • Weather features
  • XGBoost model


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